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French Prisoners at Canterbury, the Norman Staircase, c. 1808-1813
Thomas Rowlandson British, 1756
pen and grey and reddish-brown ink with watercolour over traces of graphite on wove paper 15 x 23.4 cm Purchased 1960
National Gallery of Canada (no. 7777)
The Norman Staircase was built in the mid-12th century as the entrance to one of the monastic buildings around Canterbury Cathedral. As Rowlandson's drawing records, these structures were used as a temporary prison at the time that the French Wars raged throughout Europe following the Revolution of 1789. The Staircase serves as the backdrop to a scene of mundane daily life for these incarcerated French soldiers.