George Cruikshank, an English caricaturist, born in London, Sept. 27, 1792. His father and elder brother were engravers, and occasionally practised caricaturing. It is said that he thought of following the theatrical profession, and appeared several times upon the stage while yet a young man. He certainly possessed considerable dramatic talent, and in after years appeared in the amateur performances instituted by Mr. Dickens. His earliest designs were in illustration of juvenile and song books. He obtained admission to the royal academy, then under the superintendence of Fuseli; but all the seats were occupied, and he did not again attempt to enter as a student, though he often appeared as an exhibitor. He was next engaged in the publication of a monthly periodical called "The Scourge," and another, "The Meteor," for which he furnished the illustrations. He was an ardent liberal, and became extensively known as a political caricaturist. From 1819 to 1821 he illustrated a number of political publications; among others, a series of squibs on the public and private life of the prince regent, and the marriage and trial of Queen Caroline. He had in the mean time been also engaged in illustrating a work called "Life in London," written by Pierce Egan and intended to warn young men against the dangers of what is called " seeing life." But the moral aim of the artist was not kept in view by the author, and Cruikshank abandoned the work before its completion.
It had, however, a great sale both in England and America. From 1824 for nearly 30 year's he produced a great number of works exhibiting the highest qualities of comic genius; also many serious works, among the most noteworthy of which are his illustrations of Maxwell's "History of Ireland." A vast number of novels, almanacs, poems, magazines, etc, have been illustrated by his prolific pencil. In 1842 he published the first number of "Cruikshank's Omnibus," the letterpress edited by Laman Blanchard. In many of his earlier works, such as the "Gin Shop," the "Upas Tree," the "Gin Juggernaut," and others, he had shown a desire to make his genius contribute to the cause of morality. In 1847 he published a series of eight prints entitled "The Bottle," powerfully depicting the evils of intemperance. They were immensely popular, and were dramatized and exhibited in eight London theatres at the same time. These were followed by other works having the same tendency. He became himself a convert to the doctrine of total abstinence, and as an artist, speaker, and writer has contributed greatly to the advancement of the cause. In his later years he devoted much of his time to oil painting, and showed considerable skill and power.
One of his paintings, "Disturbing the Congregation," was purchased by Prince Albert, and has been engraved; another, "The Worship of Bacchus," was exhibited to the queen at Westminster in 1863, and has also been engraved, the figures being all outlined by Cruikshank himself.