Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827)

Dressing for the masquerade

London, 1790

Pencil, watercolour, pen and ink on paper

325 X 438 MM

Four women dress for a masquerade; according to a paper held by the dishevelled figure to the right, it is to be held at the Pantheon in Oxford Street.

She is disguised as a madwoman, a common guise for masqueraders; another dresses in male attire, complete with a tricorn hat. Two other fashionable women admire their exotic masks and costumes in mirrors. They are attended by the old and ugly who point up their beauty. The overturned chair in the foreground symbolises the topsy turvy world of the masquerade and the transgressive possibilities of disguise.

Purchased 1948 (No. 48.9)

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