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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 produced illustrations for novels, among the most famous of which are those he created for Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist (1838).
This illustration for the novel shows the door opening on Oliver to reveal danger, in the form of smoke and a gun. It reappeared in Forster’s biography The Life of Dickens in 1872.
Cruikshank had been a friend and colleague of the author, also illustrating The Mudfog Papers and Sketches by Boz. However, he quarrelled with him later in life, mainly over their differing attitudes to temperance (after youthful heavy drinking, Cruikshank became a firm advocate of abstinence from alcohol, while Dickens preferred moderation). The artist even claimed in a letter to The Times in 1871 that Dickens had stolen the plot of Oliver Twist from him.