George Cruikshank (1792–1878) was, from the 1820s onwards, one of Britain’s most renowned satirical illustrators. His subject matter included politicians, the anti-slavery movement, royalty and observations of everyday life. He also illustrated novels – indeed, among his most famous illustrations are those he created for Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist (1838).
This self-portrait was the frontispiece for his Table Book of 1845. It shows Cruikshank, a spaniel on his knee, enjoying a pipe-dream, surrounded by dozens of people and fantasy creatures. Behind him, a miniature Cruikshank is shown making a portrait of the artist – so there are three self-portraits in all.
The Latin motto is ex fumo dare lucem (from smoke, light). Cruikshank was an enthusiastic smoker, but later on gave up tobacco, as he gave up alcohol.
In 1872, the etching reappeared in John Forster’s The Life of Dickens.
- Full title:
- Original India proof engraving. 'The Triumph of Cupid: A Reverie'. Portrait of George Cruikshank. [from the author's presentation copy of The Life of Dickens, 1872-74]
- n.d., London
- Print / Image
- George Cruikshank, John Forster [compiler]
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- British Library
- Dex.316. - Vol I, part II
- Article by:
- Claire Wood
- The novel 1832–1880, The Gothic
Dr Claire Wood examines how Dickens blends multiple genres in Oliver Twist, including melodrama, the Gothic, satire and social commentary.