Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/243

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169
CRUIKSHANK'S WOMEN.

There is no getting over the fact that George's ideas of female beauty were, to say the least of them, peculiar: his women are fearfully and wonderfully made; they are horse-faced; their eyebrows are black and strongly marked; their hair is plastered to the sides of their faces, and meet bobs of hair at the back of their heads; their waists are as thin as their necks; and they all bear a strong family likeness to one another. The Times assertion is happily, however, so broad that it is easy to traverse and contradict it. George's handsome women are so few, that it is difficult at the moment to say where any of them may be found. I know at least of one amazingly handsome one—the London Barrow Woman in Hone's "Every-Day Book." Some pretty servant girls will be found in the etching of The Sergeant Introducing his Dutch Wife to his Friends in "St. James's, or the Court of Queen Anne," and I will undertake to point out at least half a dozen pretty faces in the course of illustrations to "The Miser's Daughter"; but after all, these are only exceptions to the general rule; and it may be safely conceded that as a delineator of female beauty, George could not hold a candle to John Leech, to John Tenniel, or even to his own brother, Isaac Robert.

The Cruikshankian Steed.As for the celebrated Cruikshankian steed, I give him up at once as an utterly irreclaimable and unmanageable brute. Thackeray, writing in 1840, said, that "though our artist does not draw horses very scientifically, to use the phrase of the atelier; he feels them very keenly, and his queer animals, after one is used to them, answer quite as well as better." Even on this subject, however, the ablest critics have contradicted each other. George Augustus Sala tells us that the artist "could draw the ordinary nag of real life well enough," and cites by way of example the very horses of the celebrated Deaf Postilion, in "Three Courses and a Dessert," which Thackeray had previously held up to well-merited execration. He goes on to tell us that when George "essayed to portray a charger or a hunter, or a lady's hack, or even a pair of carriage horses, the result was the most grotesque of failures. The noble animal has, I apprehend, forty-four 'points,' technically