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Cruikshank, Isaac (1756?-1811?) (DNB00)

CRUIKSHANK, ISAAC (1756?–1811?), caricaturist and water-colour painter, born about 1756, was the son of a lowlander, who at one time held an appointment in the custom-house at Leith, and after the disasters of the '45 took to art as a profession. Left an orphan at an early age Cruikshank also became an artist, earning a precarious subsistence as a book illustrator, water-colour painter, and political caricaturist of the Gillray and Rowlandson type. Two examples of his water-colours, ‘The Lost Child’ and ‘The Child Found,’ are included in the William Smith gift to the South Kensington Museum, and he appears to have exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1789–90 and 1792. In 1791 his signature as designer is affixed to ‘Mrs. Thrale's Breakfast Table,’ the frontispiece to a book entitled ‘Witticisms and Jests of Dr. Samuel Johnson.’ One of the earliest of his political squibs, according to Wright (History of Caricature and Grotesque, 1865, p. 488), is entitled ‘A Republican Belle,’ and dated 10 March 1794. Many of his subsequent plates, e.g. ‘The Royal Extinguisher’ (Pitt putting out the flames of sedition), 1795; ‘Billy's Raree Show,’ 1797; ‘The Watchman of the State,’ 1797; ‘The British Menagerie,’ 1798; ‘John Bull troubled with the Blue Devils’ (taxes), 1799; and ‘A Flight across the Herring Pond’ (Irish fugitive patriots descending upon England), 1800, had a vogue hardly inferior to that of Gillray. Others of his designs, such as the well-known ‘The Rage; or, Shepherds, I have lost my Waist,’ 1794, were purely social, or dealt with the enormities of fashion. His latest political effort is dated 19 April 1810, and is entitled ‘The Last Grand Ministerial Expedition.’ It relates to the riot on the arrest of Sir Francis Burdett for a libellous letter in Cobbett's ‘Register,’ and ‘shows,’ says Mr. Wright, ‘that Cruikshank was at this time caricaturing on the radical side in politics.’ He also did numerous illustrations and humorous designs for Laurie & Whittle of 53 Fleet Street, and etched many lottery tickets. Soon after he settled in London he married a Miss Mary Macnaughten, who came of a Perth family. Beyond the fact that he was a volunteer, and the father of George and Isaac Robert Cruikshank [q. v.], little more is known of him. His death, which was accelerated by habits of intemperance, is supposed to have taken place in 1810 or 1811.

[Jerrold's Life of George Cruikshank, 2nd edit. 1883; Redgrave; Wright's Hist. of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art, 1865.]

A. D.