This watercolor is connected to William Combe’s The History of Johnny Quae Genus, a book that was published in 1822, for which Rowlandson provided twenty-four coloured aquatints. The story followed the adventures of Johnny Quae Genus, the adopted son of Dr Syntax, the subject of Combe and Rowlandson’s highly successful: The Tour of Doctor Syntax in search of the picturesque (1809-12). In the present work Johnny Quae Genus is seen on the far right.
Rowlandson’s creative process, which culminated in the aquatint, clearly matured over a number of years, as three other drawings of this subject, with compositional differences, survive. One is in a private collection, another (dated 1802) is in the Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand and the third is held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.