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'Dancing Dolls, or, Les Marionettes a Londres'

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    01/08/1835 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cruikshank, George, born 1792 - died 1878 (artist)
    Thomas McLean & Co (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

George Cruikshank (1792-1878) was an English caricaturist and book illustrator. Early in his career he produced social and political caricatures of English life for popular publications such as The Comic Almanack and Omnibus. He went on to become a leading exponent in the art of book illustration and is generally accredited as heralding the golden age of children's book illustration. Among his most popular illustrated works are the first English translation of Grimm's fairy tales, German Popular Stories, published in two volumes by Charles Baldwyn from 1823-6, Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels (1836-8) and Charles Dickens' novels, Sketches by Boz (1836) and Oliver Twist (1838). Most of Cruikshank's illustrative work was produced on copper, etched by himself.

His illustrative style went out of fashion in the 1840s but, inspired by the temperance movement, he continued to illustrate temperance tracts and folios of moralising prints, such as 'The Bottle' (1847) and its sequel, 'The Drunkard's Children' (1848). He remained an ardent social reformer throughout his life.

Physical description

Hand-coloured etching depicting two dolls dancing on a string tied between a post and a boy's leg. The boy plays a recorder-like instrument and bangs a drum. Two girls on the right of the etching observe - one holds a doll by the arms so it appears to dance. On the left a woman carrying two milk pans around her shoulders laughs. In the background is a long fence with a house beyond and a man leaning on the fence. A partial view of a sign reads: 'Nursery'. Title and production information printed below the illustration within a border.

Place of Origin

London (made)


01/08/1835 (published)


Cruikshank, George, born 1792 - died 1878 (artist)
Thomas McLean & Co (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Etching on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Initialled in pencil by Anne Renier on verso


Height: 141 mm Whole, Width: 176 mm Whole

Object history note

Drawn by George Cruikshank, engraved by J.T.S. and published by Thomas McLean on 1st August 1835. Bequeathed to the V&A in 1970 by Anne and Fernand G. Renier as part of the Renier Collection.

Descriptive line

Hand-coloured etching, 'Dancing Dolls, or, Les Marionettes a Londres', by George Cruikshank, engraved by J.T.S. and published by Thomas McLean 1st August 1835.


Paper (fiber product); Etching; Watercolour


Etching (printing process); Hand-colouring

Subjects depicted

Fences; Milk maid; Recorders; Girls; Dancing; Milk cans; Houses; Dolls; Women; Drums (membranophones); Men


Illustration; Prints; National Art Library

Production Type



National Art Library

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