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Watercolour - The Dame School
  • The Dame School
    Cruikshank, Isaac, born 1764 - died 1811
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The Dame School

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1790-1810 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cruikshank, Isaac, born 1764 - died 1811 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 11

Physical description

The Education Act of 1870 was the first measure in Britain aimed at providing a universal state system of infant schools. Before that time many children, especially those from poorer families, learned the rudiments of literacy in Dame Schools, so-called because they were run by single often elderly women. In Cruickshank's sketch the teacher is listening to a child reading aloud, so clearly her pupils are learning something; often critics dismissed the Dame Schools as no more than a child-minding service for parents who were working. As is evident from the details here the schoolroom was the old woman's kitchen. The warm domesticity of the scene is undercut by the sight of the bundle of birch twigs on the table - this would have been used by the teacher to beat a slow or difficult child.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1790-1810 (painted)


Cruikshank, Isaac, born 1764 - died 1811 (artist)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 25 cm framed, Width: 30 cm framed, Height: 7 in Image, Width: 9.25 in Image

Descriptive line

Watercolour painting by Isaac Cruikshank entitled 'The Dame School'. Great Britain, ca. 1790-1810.





Subjects depicted

Fireplaces; Children; Teachers; Reading; Interiors; Furniture


Paintings; Drawings; Education & Learning; Children & Childhood; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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