The Worship of Bacchus Returns

cruikshank worship of bacchus

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Worship of Bacchus, or The Drinking Customs of Society, June 20, 1864. Steel engraving. Graphic Arts collection. Gift of Richard W. Meirs, Class of 1888.

Cruikshank Bacchus

George Cruikshank, The Worship of Bacchus. Oil on canvas. (c) Tate Britain

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Missing since we last looked for it in 2008, this mammoth print by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) entitled Worship of Bacchus, or The Drinking Customs of Society (June 20, 1864) was recently uncovered and returned to the Graphic Arts Collection.

A gift from Richard W. Meirs, Class of 1888, the steel engraving is over 100 centimeters long. It reproduces of the well-known oil painting by Cruikshank, printed by Richard Holdgate and published by William Tweedie in London. Note the lunatic asylum at the top, next to the prison with gallows on the roof.
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The Tate’s painting was also removed from public view for a long time and only recently restored for the exhibition Rude Britannia. To see the scale of the original watch this video:

For an explanation of the iconography, see: John Stewart, The worship of Bacchus: size 13 ft. 4 in. by 7 ft. 8in: painted by George Cruikshank: a critique of the above painting; a descriptive lecture by George Cruikshank; and opinions of the press. 6th ed. (London: W. Tweedie, 1862). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 939

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