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George Cruikshank's Life, Times and Art: Volume II: 1835-1878
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George Cruikshank's Life, Times and Art: Volume II: 1835-1878 (Hardback)

Pre-order. Despatched on publication 28/02/2019


In the conclusion to the biography of the caricaturist and illustrator George Cruikshank, Robert Patten narrates the second half of the artist's long career. It is an examination of Cruikshank's cooperations with some of the writers who are known as remakers of British fiction, particularly Harrison Ainsworth, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. Patten also examines Cruikshank's illustrated periodicals, especially the Comic Almernack, which preceded Punch, and which contains an invaluable record of three decades of London life in the artist's hundreds of etchings. Beginning in 1847, Cruikshank became a leading advocate of Temperance, producing two dramatic series of prints, a gigantic oil painting, and many other forms of propaganda. Patten provides the fullest account ever of Cruikshank's many friendships and contextualises his art, showing how the subjects, mediums, treatments, publishers and audiences affected the artist's productions. He is especially good at elucidating Dickens' very public quarrel with Cruikshank, a quarrel that severed twenty years of friendship.

The artist's friendship with John Ruskin, who became for a time Cruikshank's patron and champion, is also illuminated by Patten. Cruikshank's later years were not successful either artistically or financially. He was bedevilled by economic crisis, inadequate commissions, and the upkeep of two households - one with his second wife and the other with his mistress and ten children. This volume of the biography foregrounds the changing image of the artist, as he refashioned himself and is refashioned by others to suit or to offend Victorian sensibilities. The intertwining of charity and art, Temperance and propaganda, children's imagination and adult's criticism, Scots heritage and English propriety, complicated and confused Cruikshank's declining years. Patten's engaging and energetic narrative sorts out the contradictory impulses within Cruikshank's life, times and art. This title is named as the Best Biography of the '90s by "The Guardian". Also available in this series is: "Volume I: 1792-1835"

Robert L. Patten is a professor of English at Rice University. He is the author of Charles Dickens and His Publishers and of many essays on Cruikshank and Dickens. This project received support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities Center, the Centre for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, and the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon.

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