George Cruikshank’s Life, Times and Art, Volume 1

By Robert L. Patten

Volume I of George Cruikshank’s (1792-1878) biography, the political and social artist who became representative of his age.

ISBN: 9780718828721


George Cruikshank’s (1792-1878) etchings and wood-engravings graced the pages of such classics as Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Dicken’s Oliver Twist, campaigned in the propaganda war against Napoleon, and satirised his times, becoming representative of the age. His life intersected with Britain primary political, social, and cultural leaders, yet he experienced a long struggle for recognition of his imaginative, versatile and incisive images.

In the first documentary biography of Cruikshank, Robert Platten reviews thousands of unpublished letters and printed images to construct a thorough and reliable account of the artist’s extraordinary career. Placing Cruickshank’s achievements in the contexts of the traditions of figuration practiced by his contemporaries and the social productions of nineteenth-century Britain, Patten’s book is a valuable contribution to the interactions between high and low art, texts and pictures, politics and imagination. This first volume focusses on the artist’s regency caricatures and early book illustrations and offers the specialist and general reader an in-depth study of this remarkable artist.

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About the Author

Robert L. Patten is the Lynette S. Autrey Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Rice University, and writes primarily about Victorian literature, graphic arts, and print culture, including multiple books about Charles Dickens.


Preface: To the Reader


Phase 1: “Cradled in Caricature,” 1792-1820

1 What’s in a Name?
2 All My Relatives Were Scots
3 A Naughty Boy
4 A Picture of Fife
5 What Can You Do, If Your Pelvis is Wrong?
6 George Cruikshank Invenit
7 Too Much Fun of Too Many Things
8 The Pursuit and Torment of “Little Boney”
9 “Twit, Twittle, Twit”: The Trials of William Hone
10 The Most Important Design I Ever Made
11 The Dandy of Sixty
12 A Very Tar in Art

Phase 2: “The Finest Things, Next To Rembrandt’s,” 1820-1835

13 Late Hours, Blue Ruin, and Dollies
14 Epigrams of Design
15 A Thorough-bred Artist
16 A Sketching Dante
17 To Work – “With a Will”
18 A Work Begun in Sadness
19 Indestructible as Punch
20 Thumbnail Designs
21 An “Average-European” Style
22 Drawing in Albums
23 Prince of Humorous Designers
24 The Arch and Able Pencil

Concerning Transcriptions and References
General Index
Index of Cruikshank’s Works