<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

Thomas Rowlandson, 1756–1827, British

Place des Victoires, Paris

Additional Title(s):

La Place Des Victoires

La Place des Victoires [Paris]

ca. 1783
Watercolor in pen and black ink over graphite on medium, moderately textured, cream antique laid paper
Sheet: 13 3/4 x 21 inches (34.9 x 53.4 cm) and Image: 13 3/4 x 21 inches (34.9 x 53.4 cm)

Watermarked, center on back (horizontal): [Strasburg Lily]

Lettered center left within image (on plinth): "LOUIS LE GRAND"

Inscribed in graphite, lower right on back: "IR 516"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
building | carriages | carts | cathedral | celebration | chaos | cityscape | costume | dogs (animals) | figures | French | genre subject | Grand Tour | humor | monk | music | musician | plaza | satire | satirical | sculpture | statue | street | victory | violin | violinist | walking
Associated Places:
Europe | France | Notre-Dame | Paris | Place des Victoires
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open to Yale ID holders by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.

The iniquities and excess of the ancient régime France were a popular target for British satirical art (see cats. 83-4). Thomas Rowlandson's watercolor draws on a number of stereotypes commonly associated with the French at this period - the suppositious adherence to the Catholic faith, indicated by the procession of monks and the looming presence of Notre-Dame (flaunting topographical accuracy, Rowlandson has placed the cathedral immediately behind Place de Victoires); an unquestioning devotion to the monarchy, signaled by the man in the sedan chair gazing raptly at the monument erected to Louis XIV in 1686; and a frivolous attachment to sartorial sonsiderations, represented by the fashionably dressed figures and the poodle dog wearing a wig. Two other versions of the composition are known, but it is likely that cat. 86 was the original watercolor exhibited by Rowlandson at the Society of Artists in 1783. The image was engraved and published in Britain shortly after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, presumably in response to the considerable public interest generated by the tumultuous events in France. Rowlandson clearly derived pleasure from ridiculing the French and produced many watercolors on this theme, but his relationship with France seems to have been more complex than his John Bullish stance might suggest. Raised by his French-speaking aunt Jane (née Chevalier), Rowlandson visited the country on a number of occasions, and his sophisticated and refined drawing style, which often seems at odds with his robust subject matter, owes much to French rococo art.

Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977-1986, Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1986, pp. 5, 29, no. 118, color plate 6, N590.2 A7 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Malcolm Baker, The marble index : Roubiliac and sculptural portraiture in eighteenth-century Britain, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2014, pp. 28, 30, 35, fig. 31, NB466 .B355 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Patrick Noon, A Princely Amateur, Paul Mellon and his Collection of British Drawings , Master Drawings, vol. 38, no. 3, Master Drawings Association, Inc., Fall, 2000, p. 342, fig. 4, NC1 M37 (YCBA) Another copy available as item VF 2329

Mathew Thomas Payne, Regarding Thomas Rowlandson, 1757-1827, his life, art & acquaintance , Hogarth Arts, London, 2010, pp.65,132,140..., Pl. III, NJ18 R79 P39 2010 (YCBA)

Duncan Robinson, Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977 - 1986, , Burlington Magazine, vol. 128, October 1986, pp. 5, 29, no. 118, col. pl. 6, N1 B87 128:3 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.