CRUIKSHANK, George (1792-1878). Sketches by Boz. Both Series. Proofs of the Etchings. 1836.
2o (335 x 248 mm). Printed title-page, 28 etched proof plates on India Paper (245 x 195 mm, two images to a single undivided sheet as printed) mounted on 14 leaves and tipped-in to an album with blank leaves (one or two spots). 19th-century green crushed morocco, gilt (extremities just touched).
Provenance: Drew Collection, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge London, 19 March 1872, lot 77; Henry William Bruton, Cruikshank's executor and pre-eminent collector (engraved bookplate by Cruikshank; his sale Sotheby's London, 9 June 1921, lot 153); Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate; his sale Sotheby's London, 22 November 1971, lot 7); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
COMPLETE SET OF PROOFS for frontispieces, title-pages and plates for the first editions of the first and second series, including the two extra plates "The Last Cab Driver" and "The First of May", and a variant state of "The Streets, Morning" (published plate included for comparison). Selected by Cruikshank, and along with other "fine proofs on India Paper of his most important works" taken to Windsor Castle "for the inspection of the Queen [Victoria] and Prince Albert" (Drew sale catalogue note).
Dickens first encountered Cruikshank at Kensal Lodge, the home of William Harrison Ainsworth, at one of Ainsworth's famous literary and artistic gatherings: "At his dinner table could be found the brilliant young artist Daniel Maclise, the famous George Cruikshank taking more wine than anyone else and presently roaring a street ballad or dancing the hornpipe, Disraeli in his gold-flowered waistcoat and Edward Bulwer extravagantly loaded with jewels." Leaving one such evening in the company of publisher John Macrone: "The publisher told [Dickens] that his Sketches were 'capital value' and should be collected into a volume for publication. Macrone added the suggestion that they might be illustrated by Cruikshank. This was an exhilarating thought, for Cruikshank's pre-eminence in his work was so unchallenged that his name alone ensured a large sale" (Johnson).
The Dexter Collection in the British Library holds a set of 40 proof plates for Cruikshank's illustrations to Sketches including two states of the engraved title-page.
CRUIKSHANK, George. Four autograph letters signed ("Geor Cruikshank"), concerning his proposed illustrations for Sketches: Second Series, 8 March 1836 - October 1836, one to Charles Dickens and three to John Macrone. Each 1pp: that to Dickens 4o., the others 8o; tipped-in to two leaves before the proofs. Provenance: Peter Keary (purchased by Bruton at his sale, Puttrick & Simpson London, 5 January 1916, part lot 471).
Dickens's increasingly demanding schedule and Cruikshank's prevarications had made the production of proofs and etched plates for the "First Series", published on 8 February 1836, frustratingly slow. These letters show that arrangements for the Second Series would be no less fraught. The first dated "Tuesday Mg March 8th 36" to Macrone discusses arrangements for a formal meeting with the publisher and Dickens to discuss the proposed illustrations: "I am sorry that I was not at home when you & friend 'Boz' honoured me with a call - Ainsworth had been with me & will come again on Friday at 1/2 past 3 - perhaps you will also favour me with your presence that we may finally decide upon the number of subjects etc etc - in the meantime be so good as to order 1 or 2 copper plates so that they may be ready for me to commence the etching next week."
It seems that decisions were further delayed and by October 11th Cruikshank writes to Macrone: "As it would not answer my purpose to stand idle I have commenced another work which must be finished before I can take up the Secd. Vol of 'Boz'. I shall be truly sorry should this affect any of yr. publishing arrangements but it is clearly no fault of mine - I did expect to see the MS. from time to time in order that I might have the privilege of suggesting any little alterations to suit the Pencil - but if you are printing the book all that sort of thing is out of the question - only thus much I must say that unless I can get good subjects to work upon, I will not work at all."
By the 15th Cruikshank has had a change of heart, and again he writes to Macrone: "I have made arrangements which will enable me to proceed at once with - "Boz" - and shall endeavour to hold a consultation with that gentleman - on Monday or Tuesday 25 as by that time I will have finished Sketches. Be so good therefore as to let me have a copper plate (the exact size) early in the engraving week in order that I may commence etching."
It seems that the proposed meeting with Dickens did not happen as planned. In his letter to Dickens dated "City Tuesday Mg", Cruikshank excuses himself: "It was my intention to have call'd upon you this mg but being obliged to go in another direction - I just drop this note to apologise for not answering your note before - and to assure you that in two or three days you may rely upon seeg me with proofs."
[With:] A small group of items relating to provenance: BRUTON, H.W. Autograph manuscript note initialled "H.W.B." 1p. 8vo., detailing provenance; two leaves from Puttick and Simpson Sale catalogue 5 January 1916 annotated by Bruton; Sotheby's sale catalogue 19 March 1872 annotated by Bruton; small newspaper cutting about the Keary sale. (7)