Cruikshank, George (1792-1878; English) & Mottram, Charles (1807-76; English)
The Worship of Bacchus, or The drinking customs of society… 1864
Engraving with etching, 55.7 x 98.4 cm irreg. (image), 61.1 x 98.4 irreg. (sheet, trimmed with platemark)
Presented by the Belgian Government, 1868
National Gallery of Victoria (p.179.17-1)

Cruikshank made his name with caricatures satirising contemporary society and fashion: see Cruikshank 29 etchings {1899} NGV [ET].

But in 1847, at the age of 55, he foreswore his addiction to alcohol (which had killed his father in 1811), and became a vocal supporter of the Temperance Movement, issuing The Bottle, a set of prints inveighing against drinking. His passionate views on the subject were summarized in the huge painting The Worship of Bacchus (Tate Gallery, 1860-62), a “manifesto for teetotalism” (Trevor Jackson, 2001): see reproduction below.

The full inscribed title of this printed version runs as follows: THE WORSHIP OF BACCHUS, / OR, / THE DRINKING CUSTOMS OF SOCIETY, / SHOWING, HOW UNIVERSALLY THE INTOXICATING LIQUORS ARE USED, UPON EVERY OCCASION IN LIFE, FROM THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE. Also inscribed, lower left: The Figures outlined on the Steel Plate by George Cruikshank, & the Engraving finished by Charles Mottram.

This was one of several prints presented to the Melbourne collection by the Belgian government in 1868 (see e.g. Unknown after Rubens Descent from the Cross {1868} NGV [PR]).

[comparative photo: Tate Gallery canvas]


NGV 1894, p.105 (V.Buvelot Gallery, 2nd bay, no.5); not listed in NGV 1905 

See (information as shown above; not reproduced)

For high resolution reproductions of other impressions of the engraving, and details, see (accessed 1/6/16). For the Tate painting (including discussion of its 2001 restoration), see Robert Upstone & others, George Cruickshank’s The Worship of Bacchus in focus, London: Tate Publishing, 2001 (free download available, and (by Trevor Jackson, 2001, as quoted above; accessed 1/6/16)

For Cruikshank’s significance in relation to the temperance movement, see the entry on him in Jack Blocker & others, Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: a Global Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, Denver and Oxford: ABC Clio, 2003, volume I, pp.179-80 (with further reading) [excerpt available online via Google Books]