George Cruikshank (1792-1878)
Cruikshank was one of the most prolific illustrators and satirical artists working in England and often referred to as the 'modern Hogarth'. Born in London, a member of the Cruikshank family of caricaturists and artists. His father Isaac was a well-known engraver and caricaturist who taught him etching, watercolour and drawing.
In 1811 while George was still in his teens, he gained popular success with his series of political caricatures that he created for the periodical,The Scourge, aMonthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly. This publication lasted until 1816, during which time Cruikshank came to rival James Gillray, the leading English caricaturist of the preceding era. In fact, because their style was so similar as to be indistinguishable, Cruikshank was employed by Hannah Humphrey, James Gillray's publisher and landlady, to finish plates Gillray was too ill to complete.
In the 1820's, Cruikshank began his book illustration period of his career with his most famous being for Charles Dickens'sSketches by Boz(1836) andOliver Twist(1838).
In the 1830's he began campaigning against the abuses of alcohol, especially gin. In 1847 he renounced all alcohol and became an enthusiastic supporter of the Temperance Society in Great Britain. Cruikshank produced a long series of pictures and illustrations, pictorial pamphlets and tracts for the Society. Cruikshank's crusade against the evils of alcohol culminated inThe Worship of Bacchus,published by subscription and based on the artist's vast oil painting of the same name, now in the Tate Gallery in London. George conceived the idea for the painting during an 1859 weekly meeting of the Committee of the National Temperance League. He planned a "monumental painting depicting all phases of drunkenness, from beggar to lord and cradle to grave." He began the huge painting in 1860 and completed it in 1862.