Cruikshank's Napoleon

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), who began his long and influential career as a caricaturist and book illustrator at the age of eight, working in his father’s shop, produced a steady output of political prints for over sixty years, although he focus had shifted to book illustration by the mid 1820’s. His works, which include more than 6000 graphic designs, ranged from portraits (some satiric, others not, depending on the tastes of his patrons and employers), attacks on politicians, the British monarchy, and Napoleon, illustrations for children’s books, and advertising for the Temperance Movement. By the second decade of the nineteenth century he was admired as the leading British caricaturist. Just before and after Napoleon’s final defeat in 1815, Cruikshank executed a number of political caricatures of the defeated French Emperor. These and earlier portraits of Napoleon at key moments in his career present a double sided image of the artist as by turns a created of dignified portraits and a savage caricaturist of the Frenchmen the British loved to hate.


Lauren Schroeder