Robert L. Patten, a Rice University professor, collected numerous materials, etchings and prints by the artist George Cruikshank in the course of his research on the man best known as the original illustrator of many of Charles Dickens’s novels.
The collection, which is housed at the Woodson Research Center, is of interest to scholars and students of late 18th to mid-19th century England. Through his prints, Cruikshank provides a critical and unique peek into the social strata of England from the gin-soaked taverns to the stuffy parlors of the wealthy. Artists are interested in this collection because of Cruikshank’s reputation as a printmaker, and many fans of Dickens consider Cruikshank to be the quintessential Dickens illustrator.
Patten wrote the first documentary biography of Cruikshank. His papers are rich in original Cruikshank materials, including 17 boxes of prints, pamphlets, and illustrations (including etchings, engravings, and woodcuts). Many are single leaves from books illustrated by Cruikshank, others are bound or loosely-bound books and pamphlets. Still others are proofs, some mounted, on India paper. The collection also includes prints by Isaac, Robert, and Percy Cruikshank.
As the liner notes for Patten’s book George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art state, “The etchings and wood-engravings of George Cruikshank (1792-1878) recorded, commented on, and satirized his times to such an extent that they have been frequently used to represent the age.”
The collection contains typescripts, page proofs, research material, correspondence, photographs, and artwork relating to Robert Patten's comprehensive biography of Cruikshank.
The first series contains material relating to the writing and production of the biography, including typescripts, proofs, administrative materials, and artwork, and correspondence with the Rutgers University Press and others.
The second series contains card file research notes that list works, correspondence notes, names of correspondents, subject of correspondence (e.g.. art-related, business, personal), location of repository and dates, bibliographical information, subject files, and source notes.
Series three includes research material, notes, photocopies of works and articles, catalogs, correspondence, photographic materials, and subject files. It contains research material, primarily notes and transcriptions of correspondence from repositories such as Princeton University, Harvard, UCLA and others. Collectors Frank S. Bradburn and Ronald Searle are also represented. The series contains a collection of articles relating to Cruikshank as well as book illustrations, and a series of lectures by Robert Patten.
Series four includes prints, pamphlets, and illustrations including etchings, engravings, and woodcuts. Many of Cruikshank’s works are represented, including illustrations for Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and Sketches by Boz, the novels of W.H. Ainsworth, the Comic Almanack, and others.
Series five includes manuscript materials by and about George Cruikshank. Several collectors are represented, including Frank S. Bradburn, Christopher C. Kohler, Ronald Searle. It also includes a number of letters, documents and ephemera obtained through Sotheby's (David Borowitz collection).
Collection Profile and Overview: Philip Montgomery
Illustrations: Jeff Fitlow