Cruikshank, George (1792-1878; English) & Mottram, Charles (1807-76; English)
The Worship of Bacchus, or The drinking customs of society… 1864
Engraving with etching, c.55.7 x 98.4 cm irreg. (image)
Presented by George P. Ivey, by 1865
Present location unknown

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.

For a second impression of this print, apparently the one extant in the NGV, see Cruikshank & Mottram The Worship of Bacchus 1864 (c.2) {1868} NGV [PR], one of several prints presented to the Melbourne collection by the Belgian government (see e.g. Unknown after Rubens Descent from the Cross {1868} NGV [PR]).

[comparative photo: Tate Gallery canvas]


NGV 1865, p.41 (details as noted above)

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]