Thomas Rowlandson

Two O’Clock Ordinary

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 219 x 348 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

This gentle satire shows a public eating house or 'ordinary', where a meal was provided at a fixed time and a set price. Needless to say, the atmosphere is chaotic. The diners eagerly attack the food, tussling with their neighbours to get their fill. A print from Rowlandson's drawing was published in 1811. There, the eating house is identified as Hornsey Wood House, which offered an 'ordinary' on Sundays at 2 pm: 'Hot roast and boiled from two to five/ Dinners drest on the shortest notice'.

Gallery label, September 2004