Work of the Fellows: Biographies

George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art

Patten, Robert L. (Fellow, 1987-88)

New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992

From the publisher's description:

The etchings and wood engravings by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) recorded, commented on, and satirized his times to such an extent that they have been frequently used to represent the age. Cruikshank, a popular artist in the propaganda war against Napoleon, an ardent campaigner for Reform and Temperance, and the foremost illustrator of such classics as Grimms' Fairy Tales, Scott's novels, and Dickens's Oliver Twist, is known for his versatility, imagination, humor, and incisive images. His long life, marked by a ceaseless struggle to win recognition for his art, intersected with many of Britain's important political, social, and cultural leaders. Robert Patten provides the first documentary biography of Cruikshank. In this first volume of a two-volume work, which covers the artist's Regency caricatures and early book illustrations, Patten demonstrates the ways that Cruikshank was, as his contemporaries frequently declared, the Hogarth of the nineteenth century. Having reviewed over 8,500 unpublished letters and most of Cruikshank's 12,000 or more printed images, Patten gives a thorough and reliable account of the artist's career. He puts Cruikshank's achievement into a variety of larger contexts--publishing history, political and cultural history, the traditions of figurations practiced by Cruikshank's contemporaries, and the literary and social productions of nineteenth-century Britain. Published to coincide with the Fall 1992 bicentennial celebrations of the artist's birth, this biography provides both the general reader and the specialist with a wealth of new information conveyed in a lively, non-technical prose. Patten's book contributes to current investigation of the rich interactions between high art and low art, texts and pictures, politics and imagination.


Subjects: Art;; Artists; Caricature; Etchings; Engraving; Satire; Cultural History;