Skip to main content

Recitator Acerbus: P.14855-R

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Recitator Acerbus


Printmaker: Unknown
Draughtsman: Kent, William (After)




Etching on laid paper. Scene within an etched border of a man standing in a landscape, hill with trees at the far left and stream in the right middleground. The man has enlarged facial features - nose, chin and lips - and is seen in three-quarter profile facing right, leaning forward slightly and reading from a manuscript held in his left hand. In the background on the right, a winged ass leaps over a barrel on the ground which empties its contents into the stream. The ass is visibly farting in the direction of the figure. Etched title below the border at lower centre: 'Recitator Acerbus'. The sheet has been trimmed around the edges, although the lower part with platemark remains and is inscribed in pen and ink at lower left: 'W. Kent delin.' and in faded pen and ink in a different hand at lower right: 'Mr Bryan of Bury St. Edmunds / 1740'. A further inscription and verse in pen and ink in a third hand, signed with initials 'D.B.R.B.' which has been annotated in the same hand as the inscription at lower right, thus: 'D[r] B[asset] R[r] B[alsham]': 'Whose picture's this? Painters & Poets have an Equal right / These to draw what they will & those to write. / Happy ye Painter's art could he but show it, / By a sad face the doggrel of a Poet. / Lo! here 'tis done, each handy hobbling feature, / describes at once the hobbling of his metre. / 'Tis he! ye Lilliputian Count Briançon / A close-stool Phiz fit for a close-stool Chanson.'. An inscription in pen and ink on the verso, written before the sheet was cut down, details the origins of the image. This has been transcribed onto the verso of the artist's board onto which this print is laid down in a curator's hand which is seen elsewhere on the verso of the artist's boards onto which many of the 'Cambridge Amateurs' prints are laid down: 'Dr Basset Rector of Balsham in Cambridgeshire made / these verses under him in MS. He used often to be at Horseheath, / Cambridge where his Figure & Poetry were a standing Joke. / This Print was designed for Mr. Bryan of Bury St. Edmund's & was very like him: it was sketched out one Evening at Hockeril[l] [near Bishop's Stortford] by Mr. Kent, who had seen the original that Day at Horseheath Hall in / Cambridgeshire, & his Figure striking his Fancy, he drew it out by memory; which was thought by my Lord Montfort [owner of Horseheath Hall] & others so very resembling that they subscribed a Crown a peice [sic] & / had it engraved: I was one of the Subscribers: this was abt. 1738.'. The identity of the author of this inscription is unknown, although a graphite inscription in a different hand below the transcription on the verso of the board states: 'This note appears to be by the Revd W. Cole'. Two further inscriptions in pen and ink on the verso of the print are in a different hand and relate to the print collector, Joseph Gulston: 'N.14216'; 'D/5'.


History note: Ex. Collection Joseph Gulston

Legal notes


Acquisition and important dates

by unknown


18th Century
Production date: AD 1738


Height 272mm (cut to within platemark) x width 180mm (cut to within platemark)

School or Style


Techniques used in production


Identification numbers

Accession number: P.14855-R
Primary reference Number: 225464
Lugt: L.2986
Stephens/George: 2349
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Wednesday 5 September 2018 Updated: Monday 7 January 2019 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Paintings, Drawings and Prints

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Recitator Acerbus" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-25 15:47:49

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Recitator Acerbus |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-02-25 15:47:49|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...