Dr. Syntax Sculpture

WLMD ID: amet

The satirical English figure, Dr. Syntax, was the creation of three Londoners, artist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), writer William Combe (1742-1823), and publisher Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834). Their first collaboration was The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, issued in 1809. This was followed by several more such tours of Dr. Syntax, which were so popular that imitators soon arose. One such imitation might be Doctor Syntax in Paris, or, A Tour in Search of the Grotesque, published in 1820.

The adventures of Dr. and Mrs. Syntax' in Paris, France, include a visit to "Le Charlatan" to cure her toothache. It is only after her tooth has been extracted that the couple are ushered into a room where several people are inhaling nitrous oxide and cavorting about. At first scornful of these antics, both man and wife then partake of the gas, and themselves experience the resulting exhilaration. Dr. Syntax becomes the liveliest of the group, brandishing his wig in the air. The aquatint illustration of this episode is one of the best known depictions of the use of "laughing gas" before the modern era of inhalation anesthesia. The unknown sculptor of the work seen here has captured in three dimensions the vigorous spirit of that famous print.

Catalog Record: Dr. Syntax Sculpture Contact the library at [email protected] for historical record.