The Boxing Match between Daniel Mendoza & Richard Humphreys at Stilton in Huntingdonshire 6 May 1789
After defeating Mendoza in the first match, Humphreys was encouraged to challenge for a return at £250 a side. Mendoza’s ankle injury delayed the contest until May 1789. The intense rivalry between the contestants drew a huge crowd until May 1789. The intense rivalry between the contestants drew a huge crowd and an octagonal amphitheatre to accommodate 3,000 with ten rows of seats was erected around a 48 foot ring. The entrance was half a guinea.
About the Artist
Thomas Rowlandson was born in London in 1756. When his father was in financial difficulties, an uncle (a Spitalfields silk weaver) and aunt took care of him as a boy and his younger sister. When Thomas was eight years old his then widowed aunt moved to Soho and he was sent to Dr Barwis’s School. He was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1775, in which year two of his ‘serious’ pictures were accepted at the annual exhibition. He received a silver medal for his work at the Schools in 1777. Subsequently he paid visits to France and possibly Italy although the circumstances of these are not clear. In 1784 he exhibited his compositions titled Vauxhall Gardens and The Serpentine River at the Academy, both works showing how much he had achieved by the age of twenty-eight. On the death of his aunt, Rowlandson soon wasted half a fortune which she had left him in what we now look upon as a happily reckless life of gambling and high living among like-minded friends, interspersed with times of concentrated work for publishers to make ends meet. Between 1798 and 1822, Rudolph Ackermann employed him in illustrating many of the colour-plate books he was then publishing. Rowlandson was also working for a hack publisher, Thomas Tegg of Cheapside, from 1807. Little is known of Rowlandson’s life after 1824. He became ill at the age of sixty-eight, probably after a stroke, and died in London two years later on 22 April 1827.