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Title: Four Hundred Humorous Illustrations, Vol 2 (of 2) - With Portrait and Biographical Sketch
Author: Cruikshank, George, 1792-1878
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Four Hundred Humorous Illustrations, Vol 2 (of 2) - With Portrait and Biographical Sketch" ***

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By George Cruikshank

With Portrait and Biographical Sketch

Second Edition


Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co Glasgow


GEORGE CRUIKSHANK was born in London on the 27th of September, 1792.
His parents were of Scotch nationality. The father, namely, Isaac
Cruikshank, was an artist by profession, having considerable skill in
water-colour painting and etching. The mother was a Miss Macnaughten,
of Perth, a _protégé_ of the Countess of Perth, and the possessor of
a small sum of money. She was a person of energetic temper and strong
will, and so thrifty that by saving she added considerably to her
original pecuniary possession. She was also careful to bring up her
children in a pious manner, being, along with them, a regular attendant
at the Scotch Church in Crown Court, Drury Lane.

The couple took up house in Duke Street, Bloomsbury, where two sons
and one daughter were burn. The elder son was born in 1789, named Isaac
Robert, and ultimately became an artist of considerable reputation,
but of much less originality in character and design than his younger
brother. George was born about three years later. In artistic work he
struck out in a new line, and although the difference between his
work and that of his father and brother was not in every case strongly
marked, still it was always sufficient to enable experts to select the
productions of the youngest from those of his two seniors, a distinctly
new and original vein appearing in them from the first.

While the three children were still quite young, the family removed to
No. 117 Dorset Street, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, where the parents
let a portion of the house to lodgers. Here the father continued to
work on his plates, while his wife coloured them by hand, soon, however,
obtaining help in that respect from her sons. The boys went to school
at Mortlake, and afterwards to Edgeware, but not for long, so that they
owed little to school masters. The elder brother went to sea, and not
returning when expected, was supposed to be lost, and mourned for as
such. But after three years he suddenly re-appeared, and was welcomed
home with joy,--resuming engraving for a livelihood Unfortunately for
the family, the father died in 1811 Up to the time of his decease he
appears to have had a steady and good business, having produced an
immense number of sketches, coloured etchings, engravings, and designs
produced in various modes, many of them in connection with the stage. At
the time of his father's decease, the oldest son was twenty-two years of
age, and George, the second son, nineteen. They were both well-advanced
in their profession, and were quite capable of taking up and prosecuting
their father's business connection.

Previous to all this, there is no doubt that George began to draw when
he was a mere child. Some of his productions of 1799 are still extant.
"George's first playthings," says Mr. Bates "were the needle and the
dabber;" but play insensibly merged into work, as he began to assist his
hard-worked father. His earliest inclination, it is said, was to go
to sea, but his mother opposed this. The earliest job in the way of
etching, for which he was employed and received payment, was a child's
lottery ticket. This was in 1804, when he was about twelve years of age.
in 1805 he made a sketch of Nelson's funeral car, and whimsical etchings
of the fashions of the day. His earliest signed work is dated two years
later, and represents the demagogue Cobbett going to St. James's. His
father's early death threw the lad on his own resources, and he quickly
found that he must fight for a place in the world, as Fuseli told him
he would have to do for a seat in the Academy. Anything that offered was
acceptable--headings for songs and halfpenny ballads, illustrations for
chap books, designs for nursery tales, sheets of prints for children--a
dozen on the sheet and a penny the lot--vignettes for lottery tickets,
rude cuts for broadsides, political squibs--all trivial records but now
of the utmost rarity and value.

While still very young, and before his father's decease, young George,
with a view to becoming an Academy student, took specimens of his work
to Fuseli for his inspection, when that, official told him that he would
just have to "fight for his place," and at same time gave him permission
to attend the lectures on painting. He attended two of the lectures and
then stopped going, as his father held that if he was destined to be an
artist he would become one without instruction, so that he never became
a real student of that institution, nor had he a regular training in any
way, so that his education, both so far as art and ordinary schooling
was concerned, was very irregular and deficient. In fact, as a lad and
young man he appeared to have been too full of animal spirits and too
fond of sight-seeing to settle down to a hard course of study. The
goings-on of the two brothers were severely condemned by their pious
and strict mother. Occasionally she even went the length of castigating
George when he returned home in the small hours from fairs and horse
races, or the prize ring, and sometimes not quite sober.

He is described at this early age as filled with a reckless love
of adventure, emulating the exploits of Tom and Jerry, with wild
companions. His field of observation extended from the foot of the
gallows to Greenwich fair, through coal-holes, cider-cellars, cribs, and
prize-fighters' taverns, Petticoat Lane, and Smithfield. Its centre was
Covent Garden Market, where the young bloods drank, and sang, and
fought under the piazzas in those days. Such was pretty much the sort of
education the young men had, and luckily George had the sense and talent
to turn it all to good account later on with his pencil.

In course of time the artist was firmly established in business, and had
numerous patrons among the publishers, some of whom were thriving to
a considerable extent through Cruikshank's labours. After numerous
isolated sketches, which brought him no small amount of fame, the first
considerable series of designs by him appeared in Dr. Syntax's _Life of
Napoleon_, consisting of thirty illustrations. Another long series was
twenty-three illustrations to Pierce Egan's _Life_ in London. As also
twenty-seven etchings to Grimm's _Popular Stories_. These were followed
by numerous other lengthened series, such as _Mornings at Row Street,
Three Courses and a Dessert, Punch and Judy, Gil Blas, My Sketch Book,
Scott's Novels, Sketches by Boz, The Omnibus_, and very numerous others.
In all, he appears to have produced the illustrations for no fewer than
three hundred and twenty volumes, not to speak of an immense number of
isolated sketches of all sorts.

In 1847 and 1848 there came from his pencil his first direct and
outspoken contribution to the cause of temperance in "The Bottle" and
the "Drunkard's Children," although in some of his earlier designs
he had satired the prevalent vice of drunkenness; he capped them all,
however, in the eight plates of "The Bottle," in which he depicts the
terrible downward march of degradation in the tragedy of an entire
family, from the easy temptation of "a little drop" to the final murder
of the wife. In "The Drunkard's Children," eight more plates, the
remorseless moral is continued, the son becomes a thief, and dies in the
hulks; the daughter, taking to the streets, ultimately throws herself
over Waterloo Bridge. The two works had a great success. Moreover, they
were dramatised in eight theatres at once, and were sold by tens of
thousands. Hitherto Cruikshank had not been a strict abstainer, but now
he became one with all the energy of his nature.

In Cruikshank's later years he made a good many attempts at oil
painting, and exhibited quite a number of paintings at the Royal Academy
all with more or less success. But the larger and best known of these
is the "Worship of Bacchus;" it is a work of inexhaustible detail and
invention, and was received by the public with great favour; the size
is 7 feet 8 inches high by 13 feet 3 inches long, and it is now in the
National Gallery.

However, to return to the affairs of the family. In time the brother
Isaac Robert having got married, the whole family removed to King
Street, Holborn. Soon afterwards the mother, George, and sister took a
house in Claremont Square, Pentonville, at that period partially in the
country. Later on, becoming married. George removed to Amwell Street,
where he remained for thirty years. He afterwards resided in several
suburban localities, but finally settled down at 263 Hampstead Road,
where he died on the 1st of February, 1878, and in the following
November his remains were finally deposited in the crypt of St. Paul's

In person Cruikshank was a broad-chested man, rather below the middle
height, with a high forehead, blue-grey eyes, a hook nose, and a pair of
strong whiskers. In his younger days he had been an adept at boxing and
all manly sports, as also an enthusiastic volunteer, ultimately becoming
lieutenant-colonel of the 48th Middlesex Volunteers. He preserved his
energy almost to the last day of his life. Even at eighty he was ready
to dance a hornpipe, or sing a song, "he was," says one who knew him
well, "a light hearted, merry, jolly old gentleman, full physically
of humorous action and impulsive gesture, but in every word and deed a
God-fearing, queen-honouring, truth-loving, honest man."

The old school of caricaturists in which the names of Gilray,
Rowlandson, Woodward, and Bunbury are most prominent, was noted chiefly
for the broad, and in many cases, vulgar treatment of the subjects which
were dealt with. The later school of caricaturists, in their mode
of treating similar subjects, differed considerably from their
predecessors. The leading member of the new school was George
Cruikshank. He lived and worked during two generations, and may be
considered as the connecting link between the old school and the new.
At first Cruikshank to some extent followed Gilray and Rowlandson, but
gradually fell off from their style of art, and in its stead produced
work of a more serious and more artistic nature, which was the beginning
of a new era in the history of caricature. His illustrations to
innumerable works are of the highest order, and have made for him an
everlasting reputation.

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