George Cruikshank (1792-1878): Georgian caricaturist and Victorian illustrator

George Cruikshank (1792-1878): Georgian caricaturist and Victorian illustrator - A prelude to S.T. Gill who was known as the 'Colonial Cruikshank'

Keynote lecture: S.T. Gill and the Colonial World conference
Sheila O'Connell, British Museum

Friday 17 July, 2015
6.30 - 7.30pm
Melbourne School of Design, B121 | Malaysian Theatre
University of Melbourne

Presented by the Australian institute of Art History at the University of Melbourne, in partnership with State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Rare Book Week and supported by the Gordon Darling Foundation.

George Cruikshank lived a series of artistic lives. His first successes as a printmaker were satires on the war with Napoleon, he blossomed as the illustrator/collaborator of the early novels of Charles Dickens, and he spent his last years as a temperance campaigner using new technology to produce prints that could be published cheaply across the world, from London to New York to Sydney. This lecture will outline Cruikshank's development in the context of changes in British society and in the art world in particular. It will concentrate on the early part of his career when, barely out of his teens, Cruikshank became the most successful graphic satirist of the generation following James Gillray. This was the great age of British visual satire and the best of Cruikshank's prints can still raise a laugh even when their subject matter is obscure to most modern audiences. But he always worked under commercial pressure and these early caricatures sometimes attack one side of the political divide and sometimes the other – thus incidentally allowing us access to a range of attitudes to the events of the turbulent wartime and post-war years.Cruikshank's long career spanned a period of enormous change. His prints demonstrate how the nineteenth century saw the British print market change its focus from the elite to the mass market as technology made production cheaper, education and increasing literacy widened the interests of the population as a whole, and the effects of industrialisation and expanding urbanisation called for social reform.

About Sheila O'Connell
Sheila O'Connell has been curator of British prints before 1880 at the British Museum since 1990. She worked in the Department of Prints and Drawings as a Research Assistant from 1979 to 1985 and then spent a year as Paul Mellon Fellow at the Yale Center for British Art before returning to the U.K. where she was a curator at the Bar Convent Museum, York, and Kenwood House, London. Her exhibitions for the British Museum include: Britain meets the World 1714-1830 (a loan exhibition to the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2007; London 1753 (British Museum, 2003); The Popular Print in England (British Museum, 1999). In 2015 the exhibition Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon that she organised with Tim Clayton will be on show at the British Museum from 5 February to 16 August. She has published articles in Print Quarterly, The Burlington Magazine, The Age of Johnson, Publishing History and elsewhere. She is a member of the Council of the London Topographical Society and in 2016 will take over as editor of the Society's annual publications. She is also curatorial adviser to Dr Johnson's House, a trustee of the William Hogarth Trust and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Presented in association with the exhibition:
Australian Sketchbook: Colonial life and the art of S.T. Gill
17 July - 25 October 2015
Keith Murdoch Gallery, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by State Library Victoria in partnership with National Library of Australia
Curated by Professor Sasha Grishin