Cruikshank catches most of his subjects when they would least like to be observed. Whether the setting is public or domestic, disaster has struck, or is impending: a boat on its way to Vauxhall gardens capsizes near Westminster Bridge; a stampede of pigs en route to Smithfield Market overwhelms strolling shoppers; an inexperienced chef begins to prepare dinner by hurling onions at a live rabbit. The descriptions accompanying each image suggest the social and political background of these amusing depictions of life in eighteenth-century London. Satirical poems that accompanied published versions of the drawings, many of them theatrical afterpieces associated with well-known actors, are quoted in full. An introduction by Edward J. Nygren, former director of the Huntington Art Collections, explores the relationship of Cruikshank's satirical art to the contemporary theater.
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