The Comforts of Bath is a series of 12 etchings by Thomas Rowlandson. Each etching is accompanied by verse extracts from Christopher Anstey’s New Bath Guide. Both etchings and verse offer satirical portrayals of Bath in the late 18th century.
The etchings and extracts were published together in this form in 1858, but both originated much earlier. The etchings are dated 1798 and Anstey’s New Bath Guide was first published in 1766. As the work’s ‘Prefatory Remarks’ explain, the publisher combined the two, choosing extracts from Anstey’s New Bath Guide that he thought would suit each of Rowlandson’s etchings.
Why would mid-19th-century readers be interested in The Comforts of Bath?
By the mid-19th century, Bath was far less fashionable than it had been in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Readers would therefore have regarded The Comforts of Bath as a historical satire.
In addition, they might have enjoyed seeing the work of two celebrated artists brought together: Thomas Rowlandson was a famous painter in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, whose reputation continued long after his death. Christopher Anstey’s New Bath Guide was very popular in the years after it was first published.