Saturday, April 9, 2011

St. James’s / St. Giles’s

Isaac Cruikshank, St. James’s / St. Giles’s: Dividing the Spoil! (Fores, 1796) from Eduard Fuchs Illustrierte Sittengeschichte vom Mittelalter bis Zur Gegenwart (Albert Langan, Leipzig) n.d.

Eduard Fuchs has switched the order of the images in the print. The original colour Fores print was in 2 stacked panels with St. James’s society faro ladies on top and St. Giles’s prostitutes at the bottom.

“We all know that George Cruikshank, though of Scotch descent, was born in London, on September 27, 1792. Of his mother I know nothing, except that her name was Macnaughten, and her father had some employment of a maritime nature. Her husband, Isaac Cruikshank, was the son, as I have heard, of an impoverished Scotch gentleman, an adherent of the Pretender,* and who, thrown penniless upon his own resources after the disasters of ’45, had perforce taken to art as a means of subsistence. Isaac was born, I believe, in Edinburgh, and being left early an orphan and destitute, also adopted art as a profession. Later on he migrated southwards, and, establishing himself in London, doubtless had a “fair fecht” to support himself, his wife, a daughter, and two sons, Isaac Robert (born 1789), and George, the subject of this essay. With filial reverence, the latter describes him as “a clever designer, etcher, and engraver, and a first-rate water-colour draftsman.” We know that he was, at least, an artist of considerable talent in a humble walk of art, ready to turn his hand to anything that offered; now etching the comic designs of Woodward, now painting miniatures, with no small delicacy and character, and now drawing book illustrations with much of the grace of his contemporary, the elder Corbould. He was an exhibitor at the Royal Academy in 1789, 90-92; and as a caricaturist, entered the lists against Gillray himself in defense of Pitt.” -- William Bates, George Cruikshank, the artist, the humourist and the man (1879)

*“All my ancestors,” says George, “were mixed up in the Rebellion of ’45.” Letter to The Times, April 8, 1872.

Isaac Cruikshank (1756-1810)

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