Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)

Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)
The Old Swan Inn, with a View of Putney Bridge beyond
pen and ink and watercolour
10 x 17in. (254 x 432mm.)
Sotheby's, New York 1975

Lot Essay

The man seated in the foreground wearing an orange coat with a silver arm badge over his left shoulder was a winner of the annual sculling race for young Thames oarsmen founded in 1715 by the actor Thomas Doggett. Doggett was a supporter of the Whig party and embraced the Hanoverian cause; the colours of the winner's coat and badge represent the orange of the Whig Party and the white horse of Hanover.
The race occurs on 1 August every year between six young watermen at the end of their apprenticeship. The start was at the White Swan, London Bridge, finishing at the Swan Inn, Chelsea. The race continues to the present day, the management of the funds left by Doggett being administered by the Fishmonger's Company.
Let your oars like lightning flog it
Up the Thames as swiftly jog it,
An' you'd win the prize of Doggett,
The glory of the river.'

Another version of this composition was sold at Sotheby's, 12 April 1995, lot 27 for #9775.

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