Rural Sports - A Milling Match
Rowlandson’s view shows not only the natural amphitheatre of the valley of Thistleton Gap and the 25 feet square stage but also depicts every aspect of the prize-fighting crowd, said to be some 25,000. After his second defeat Molineux quarrelled with all his friends including Richmond who deemed him unmanageable. Molineux earned a considerable amount of money on a sparring tour of Scotland with another fighter Jack Carter. However, Molineux spent the money as fast as it was earned. In 1814 Molineux beat William Fuller for a purse of £100 but the following year was soundly beaten by George Cooper.
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.