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Provenance: William Turner (book plate); Edward Locke Tomlin (book plate);
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts
This is the fourth edition of the work, which was originally issued as 'The Schoolmaster's Tour' in Ackermann's 'The Poetical Magazine' between 1809 and 1811. The whole was issued as a book under the new title 'The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque' in 1812. It was so astonishingly popular, that by the third edition many new plates had to be made. In all, the book was issued in 9 editions in 7 years, and led to two sequels (The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of Consolation  and The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of a Wife ), numerous translations and parodies.
The work is a result of a collaboration between Rowlandson and the satirical author William Combe. They worked in partnership, with Rowlandson designing the images, which were then sent to Combe (via the censorship of Ackermann), who penned the verse. He states in the foreward that while writing the verses for one image, he did not know what the next would be. Thus the thrust of the narrative and the creation of the character were entirely the work of Rowlandson. At this time sketching tours around the country were incredibly popular, and Rowlandson drew on his own experiences in this satire, as he had himself embarked on a number of tours of this nature, often with his companion Henry Wigstead.