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The Mail-Coach

George Cruikshank (1792-1878)


Signed 'Cruikshank'

Watercolour with ink

6 ¼ x 9 inches

E B Krumbhaar, Isaac Cruikshank, a Catalogue Raisonne: with a Sketch of His Life and Work, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1966, Page 100 (No 697);
A S W Rosenbach, a Catalogue of the Works Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Isaac and Robert Cruikshank in The Library of Harry Ellkins Widener, Philadelphia: Privately Printed, 1918, Page 171 (No 99)

'The Long Nineteenth Century: Treasures and Pleasures', Chris Beetles Gallery, March - April 2014, No 30

Songhead to printed verses published 15 January 1810 by Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street. Published 15 january 1821 by Richard H Laurie, 53 Fleet Street, with the subtitle 'sung by Mr Mathews, with unbounded applause, in the farce of the three and the deuce, &c – (tune "the country club")'

Isaac Cruikshank is likely to have produced this late work with assistance from his son, George Cruikshank. Indeed, some of the prints that were based on this design state that George was the artist.

The image was drawn to illustrate the lyrics of the popular song, ‘The Mail Coach’, and represents the well-known Piccadilly hostelry, the White Horse Cellar, which is mentioned in the first verse. It was an item in the entertainment, The Mail Coach Adventure, or, Rambles in Yorkshire, which was devised as a one-man show by the actor and singer, Charles Mathews (1776-1835), for his tours of the provinces in the summer months between 1808 and 1810.

Charles Mathews also played the role of Humphrey Grizzle in Drury Lane performances of The Three and the Deuce! a three-act comedy by Prince Hoare, with music by Stephen Storace (first performed in 1795). The reissue of the print of The Mail Coach in 1821, with the subtitle ‘sung by Mr Mathews ... in the farce of
The Three and the Deuce, &c’ suggests that Matthews introduced the song into his performances of the comedy.