Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/248

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

artist, but a triumph of the wood-engraver's craft. In The Gin Shop ("Sketches by Boz"), the artist selected a subject which invariably enlisted his sympathy and called into action the full power of his graphic satire. Mark the flaming gas, the huge spirit vats, the gaudily painted pillars and mouldings; above all, the strange people: the young man with his hat on one side who chaffs the young ladies behind the bar, the gin-drinking female by his side, the gin-loving cripple, the small boy who brings the family bottle to be filled with gin, whose head barely reaches the counter, the gin-drinking charwoman to the left, and the quarrelsome gin-drinking Irish customers at the back. Everything in this picture reeks of gin; the only persons not imbibing it are the proprietor and his dowdy barmaids, whom I have no manner of doubt the artist intended to look captivating.

"What a fine touching picture of melancholy desolation," remarks Thackeray, "is that of 'Sikes and the dog.' The poor cur is not too well drawn, the landscape is stiff and formal; but in this case the faults, if faults they be, of execution rather add to than diminish the effect of the picture: it has a strange, wild, dreary, broken-hearted look; we fancy we see the landscape as it must have appeared to Sikes, when ghastly and with bloodshot eyes he looked at it." The etching of Jonathan Wild Discovering Darrell in the Loft ["Jack Sheppard"] reminds one, in its treatment, of Rembrandt, for the work of Cruikshank, be it observed, distinctly shows in its results that he studied both Hogarth and Rembrandt. The effect the artist has produced is wonderful; the ray of light thrown through the gloom upon the figure of Darrell as he stands against the wall, sword in hand, is capitally managed, "while the intricacies of the tile-work, and the mysterious twinkling of light among the beams are excellently felt and rendered."[1] Simon Renard and Winwike on the Roof of the White Tower ["Tower of London"] is another admirable drawing. The scene is laid on the platform of one of the antique guns which frown from the embrasures of the river face of the fortress. The head of Renard is not well drawn. The

  1. Thackeray, Westminster Review.