'The Horses, "going to the Dogs"', from George Cruikshank's Scraps and Sketches


George Cruikshank (1792–1878) was, from the 1820s onwards, one of Britain’s most renowned satirical illustrators. This hand-tinted drawing comes from a collection called Scraps and Sketches, an annual series published by Cruikshank between 1829 and 1832. Though not financially successful, the series confirmed his status as a leading humourist. Pirated copies of its contents appeared, much to the artist’s frustration.

This image shows the eclectic nature of the pages. At the bottom, two unrelated miniatures are a visual play on words, one bringing together all four classical elements (earth, water, fire, air), and the other the virtues of faith (the dog), hope and charity (the beggar).

The main subject, however, is the exciting new technology of the steam engine, and the horses it will replace. Cruikshank’s visualisation of linguistic puns gives us a ‘fiery steed’, and hints at the superseded nags literally ‘going to the dogs’.

Full title:
The Horses, "going to the Dogs", from Scraps and Sketches
1828, 29, London
Book / Print / Image
Cruikshank George
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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