Rowlands, John (Kendall) 1931-

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ROWLANDS, John (Kendall) 1931-


Born September 18, 1931; son of Arthur and Margaret Rowlands; married Else A. H. Bachmann, 1957 (marriage ended, 1981); married Lorna Jane Lowe, 1982; children: (first marriage) one son and two daughters, (second marriage) one daughter. Education: Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, B.A., M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Making music.


Home—Brant House, Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire LN5 0SL, England.


Freelance writer and art consultant. Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, London, England, deputy keeper, 1974-81, keeper, 1981-91.


Beefsteak Club.


(With Mary Woodall) Centenary Exhibition of the Works of David Cox, 1783-1859, Arts Council of Great Britain (London, England), 1959.

Bosch, Phaidon Press (London, England), 1975.

Rubens: Drawings and Sketches, British Museum Press (London, England), 1977.

Hercules Segers, British Museum Press (London, England), 1979.

German Drawings from a Private Collection, British Museum Press (London, England), 1984.

Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum, British Museum Press (London, England), 1984.

Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger (monograph), Phaidon Press (Oxford, England), 1985.

The Age of Dürer and Holbein: German Drawings 1400-1550, British Museum Press (London, England), 1988.

Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German-Speaking Regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum: The Fifteenth Century and Sixteenth Century by Artists Born before 1530, British Museum Press (London, England), 1993.


Art historian John Rowlands has written extensively on the subject of early Renaissance Dutch and Germanic drawings and paintings. As deputy keeper and then keeper in the British Museum's Department of Prints and Drawings, Rowlands has written several exhibition catalogs, including The Age of Dürer and Holbein: German Drawings 1400-1550, which accompanied an exhibit he developed at the museum in 1988.

Keith Andrews, reviewing the 1988 exhibition for Burlington, observed that Rowlands "envisaged the exhibition as a survey of one hundred and fifty years of German draughtsmanship, not only from the Museum's own holdings, but also including loans from other public and private collections in Britain." Andrews considered the exhibition "impressive," and noted particularly that, in addition to its focus on the famous artists Dürer and Holbein, the exhibition also thoroughly explores "the riches, varieties, and curiosities that have survived—including many from earlier periods often hidden in unexpected places." Christopher S. Wood in Speculum hailed the exhibition as "magnificent" and observed that in the catalogue Rowlands "makes substantial contributions to old debates" concerning Dürer. In Choice, F. W. Robinson praised the catalogue as a "superb" work filled with excellent reproductions and informative entries.

Rowlands' monograph Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger also attracted favorable reviews. Burlington contributor Lorne Campbell found the book a "considerable improvement" over earlier works on the artist, noting that Rowlands deals effectively with questions of attribution and "allows us to form a much clearer idea of Holbein's stylistic development." Campbell further noted, however, that Rowlands, who is an authority on drawings but not paintings, does not present a fully satisfying account of the painter's entire body of work. Spectator reviewer Peter Quennell, on the other hand, described Holbein as "a highly informative and visually delightful monograph" that provides insight not only into the painter's mature career but also "into his happily productive youth."



Apollo, March, 1977, Gregory Martin, review of Bosch, pp. 224-225; February, 1983, Christopher White, review of Hercules Segers, pp. 146-147.

Burlington, February, 1986, Lorne Campbell, review of Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, pp. 149-151; October, 1988, Keith Andrews, review of The Age of Dürer and Holbein: German Drawings 1400-1550 (exhibition), pp. 785-787.

Choice, April, 1979, review of Rubens: Drawings and Sketches, p. 213; March, 1989, F. W. Robinson, review of The Age of Dürer and Holbein: German Drawings 1400-1550, pp. 1142-1143.

Christian Century, January 18, 1989, review of The Age of Dürer and Holbein, p. 59.

Library Journal, January 15, 1979, Robert Cahn, review of Rubens, p. 181.

New York Review of Books, March 9, 1978, E. H. Gombrich, "The Life-giving Touch," pp. 6, 8, 10.

New York Times Book Review, December 8, 1985, John Russell, review of Holbein, p. 14.

Spectator, January 25, 1986, Peter Quennell, review of Holbein, pp. 24-25.

Speculum, April, 1991, Christopher S. Wood, review of The Age of Dürer and Holbein, pp. 471-474.*