A Meeting of Cognoscenti (After Dinner)
A Meeting of Cognoscenti (After Dinner), ca. 1790-1800
Pen and ink, watercolor, over graphite on wove paper
24 x 36.5 cm (9 3/8 x 14 3/8 inches)
Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 20.504
(February 3 –July 8, 2012)
Thomas Rowlandson’s satirical pictures and prints poked fun at every aspect of English society. Here he gently ridicules the 18th-century Grand Tour and the culture of refinement it fostered among the wealthy and privileged. These gentlemen Cognoscenti (Italian for connoisseurs) meet to share knowledge and compare collections of art and antiquities, such as the two busts displayed on ledges on the left wall. However, the distorted faces of these statues and the sleepy demeanor of the men suggest that their intellectual interests may be more social performance than genuine scholarly pursuit—that they only claim to have a higher appreciation for Italy’s history and artifacts. Such elite circles soon widened and diversified as travel became affordable for the middle classes in the 19th century.(June 5 –October 26, 2008)
Rowlandson portrayed the follies and pretensions at all levels of English society. A Meeting of the Cognoscenti spoofs the men who met to discuss Italian art after their return from the Grand Tour of Europe. Within a large, Georgian-period interior, Rowlandson created a series of parallels between the men and the objects placed about the room. The primly positioned high-back chairs along the wall mimic their body language, while the marble busts atop brackets seem to sneer facetiously at the group.
Pilgrims of BeautyArt and Inspiration in 19th-Century Italy
Edited ByLeise, Jennifer, ed.
Contributions byCrawford, Alexander Mann III
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, 2012
TypeJournalsA Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
Edited ByWoodward, Carla M., and Franklin W. Robinson, eds.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1988
TypeMonographs and Collections