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Cruikshank

george, museum, london and series

CRUIKSHANK, George, English illus trator and caricaturist: b. London, 27 Sept. 1792; d. there, 1 Feb. 1878. Family necessities compelled him when still a child to produce what he could, and the want of careful prelimi nary study at his outset in art affected his productions through a great part of his career. Hence his defects were chiefly those of taste and these have operated to his being popularly ranked somewhat lower as an artist than his merits deserve. For his drawing was always faithful, precise and felicitous, his facility amazing and his invention inexhaustible. The catalogue of his productions prepared by the keeper of the prints in the British Museum corn prises 5,500 articles, many of them recalling Rembrandt's work by their richness in light and shade. The earliest of his drawings known is dated 1799, when he was only seven years of age, and when 15 he was comparatively distin guished. His first occupation was designing illustrations for children's books and popular songs. He contributed also to The Scourge and The Meteor and at about the same time sketches referring the trial of Queen Caroline. In 1837 Cruikshank commenced in Mis cellany' his famous series of etchings on steel illustrative of Dickens' (Oliver Twist,' full of pathos, humor and tragic power; the illustra tions for the

with the temperance movement he produced the a powerful series of designs, char acterized, from its subject and the artist's object, by inevitable vulgarity, but pregnant with genius and high moral teaching. In 1830 he tried to paint and while he could not handle his tools well, he nevertheless displayed here as elsewhere his keen sense of caricature. Of these efforts the best are two: in the South Kensington Museum and (The Wor ship of Bacchus' (National Gallery). In spite of his genius, industry and homely mode of life he never succeeded in acquiring a competency and was compelled in extreme old age to depend on the aid of his admirers. His true life-work consisted in illustrating the costume, manners and vices of the people for a period of con siderably more than half a century. Consult Stephens, Memoir of Cruikshank' (London 1891) ; Bates, 'George Cruikshank) (1878) ; Jerrold, (Life of George Cruikshank' (1897) ; Water Colors> (1903) ; Cohn, (Bibliographical Catalogue of the Printed Works Illustrated by George Cruikshank) (New York 1914) and a biography by W. H. Chesson (1912).