arrow_drop_up arrow_drop_down

The Boisterous Erotic Drawings of the Hedonistic Thomas Rowlandson

A notorious gambler, a big drinker, blatant, boisterous, laughing – all hallmarks that apply to Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). The hedonistic tendencies of this great British caricaturist are also the ingredients of his extensive body of work.

Financial Disaster

Rowlandson had a troubled youth, his mother died when he was still a child and his father was a doomed investor in trading supplies, frequently on the edge of or into financial disaster. For this reason he spent his early life on the streets where he witnessed public hangings, bull-baiting, cock fights, dog fights, and fist fighting commoners and gentlemen.

Beer and Gin

This is where he learned to drink beer and gin but also got introduced to some of the graceful and enchanting pleasures of the public gardens, and the refinement of horse racing at Ascot.

Excellent Technician

Although Rowlandson was a very prosperous artist, an excellent technician and a master of drawing, his work was not always of the highest standards. This could have something to do with his somewhat decadent lifestyle (with vast quantities of strong drink and enormous meals) or that he had to pay urgent bills.

Lust for Life

But when Rowlandson was at his best his drawings had an immediacy, that breath a robust and fun-inspired lust for life. The English art historian Adolph Paul Oppé (1878-1957) described him as follows:

“He had the eyes to see and the hands to represent, had he so wished; but he had himself neither the emotion nor the sympathy with emotion to allow his figures to produce it by quiet means. He could sometimes raise a laugh without forcing his characters into a grimace, but he had always to make them yell if his representations were to excite horror. All this is what makes him so good, at times so consummate a draughtsman.”


In his artistic life, the prolific Rowlandson produced illustrations for novels, joke books, topographical works, caricatures of prominent figures such as William Pitt the Younger and Napoleon Bonaparte, and erotica. His erotic drawings occupy a key position in his entire work.

Erotic Expressions

As you have come to expect from us, our focus will be on his erotic expressions in the remaining of the article. Below you can find images from the book ‘The Forbidden Erotica of Thomas Rowlandson 1756-1827‘ by Kurt von Meier…

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing

A man and woman perform on a stage in public. The man balances silverware on his erected member and the woman lifts her dress. A little devil provides musical accompaniment.

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with horny sailors

A group of sailors make love to some nymphs in a sea cave. One of them is trying to chase away a merman with a giant erection.’

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with angry old man with knife

A ferocious old man holding a candlestick and a dagger is about to stab the young man making love to his lover. Is she the daughter of the grumpy old man?

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with Susanna and the Elders

Hand-colored engraving ‘Susanna and the Elders

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with A man catches his wife who is having sex with a jester

‘A man catches his wife who is having sex with a jester. The harlequin is about to hit him with a club. The brass kettle underneath the couple displays a nude couple sitting on the phallus-shaped handles.’

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with a showgirl serving two quarreling old men at the same time

‘A showgirl serves two quarreling old men at the same time.’ (Source:

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with a white woman is sitting on the lap of a black soldier while churning milk

‘A white woman is sitting on the lap of a black soldier while churning milk.’

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with Catherine the Great "inspecting" the troops

The empress of Russia, Catherine the Great uses her own unique method of reviewing her troop of Hussars, whom she employed as bodyguards. One of them in the background has a toilet break.’

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with three hookers and a shy male client

Three courtesans amuse themselves with a shy client

Thomas Rowlandson drawings: young female sporting a feathered hat straddling a sailor lying on a bench with another intimate couple behind them

A young female sporting a feathered hat makes love to a sailor lying on a bench. She is leaning forward while waving to a departing ship through a window. Another couple behind them by a window are also engaged in the act of lovemaking. In the foreground to left, a large dog and table with a tankard and glass; above, a caged bird‘ (Source: British Museum)

Thomas Rowlandson: "Leda and the Swan" after Michelangelo Buonarroti

Thomas Rowlandson’s “Leda and the Swan” after Michelangelo Buonarroti (Source: Society6)

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with a man, three women, a horse and a dog urinate on a dirt road

A man, three women, a horse and a dog urinate on a dirt road.’

Thomas rowlandson: French dance group

A French dance group‘ (late 18th century)

thomas rowlandson: erotic drawing with El columpio (In the Swing)

El columpio (In the Swing)‘ (18th century)

Click HERE for more Western erotica…!!

For an extensive description on the work and life of Thomas Rowlandson I highly recommend Kurt von Meier’s site…!

Do you think Rowlandson’s erotica is an interesting topic for our site? Leave your advice in the comment box below…!!

About the author
Marijn is the founder of With more then 20 years of experience within the sensual and erotic art of shunga he is an authority in the genre. During this time he served many customers with complementing their art collection.


on 23 June 2020

Rowlsndson’s erotica is certainly worth being on this site. Love the enjoyment shown by all the participants.



on 23 June 2020

Thanks Terry. I am pleased you like it. We'll be adding a lot more of this kind of content on his contemporaries in the near future...!!



on 21 August 2020

Absolutely. Just what this site needs. Clear well defined drawings with colour and action and with no misunderstandings.



on 22 August 2020

Thanks again Terry, will be done!

Place comment

Do you already have a copy of our coveted eBook ?

We use cookies