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Oil painting - Hades


  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1850s (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cruikshank, George, born 1792 - died 1878 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on millboard

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs George Cruikshank

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case BECK3, shelf 2

In Greek mythology Hades is the Lord of the Underworld. 'Hades' has also been used to refer to the dwelling place of the dead, over which the Lord of the Underworld presided. In this painting by George Cruikshank (1812-1870), it is unclear as to whether the Hades of the title refers to a person or a place, because central to the chaotic scene is a large and menacing creature.

Although it is unconnected to this oil painting, Cruikshank also produced an engraved Comic Alphabet, 1836, for which the letter 'O' was illustrated by a scene of the hero Orpheus playing a violin for Hades and his wife Persephone.

Cruikshank is best known for his humorous and satirical art work. Many of his images deal with the darker aspects of life. He also worked as an illustrator for the author Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

Physical description

Darkened scene of Hades depicting a crowd in the foreground and a large-bellied central figure surrounded by imps and elves. Signed 'George Cruikshank', bottom centre left. Oil on millboard. On the back are skectches in chalk, including a full male figure and a male head.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, painted)


1850s (painted)


Cruikshank, George, born 1792 - died 1878 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on millboard

Marks and inscriptions

'George Cruikshank'
Front bottom centre left


Height: 20 cm estimate, Width: 25.4 cm estimate

Object history note

Given by Mrs George Cruikshank, 1884

Descriptive line

Oil on millboard, 'Hades', George Cruikshank, 1825-1855

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, pp. 56-57


Oil; Millboard; Chalk


Oil painting




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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