This small drawing by Isaac Cruikshank was made in 1795 to illustrate a plate in The Pocket Magazine of the then Prime Minister, William Pitt the younger.
Cruikshank was an Edinburgh born draughtsman and caricaturist. He produced a striking, full-length portrait drawing of Pitt in 1790, now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, which formed the basis for this small wash study. Cruikshank designed and etched hundreds of his own prints and felt confident enough of his place in the caricature market to borrow, transform, extend, and allude to his own previous images. He executed lesser works as well. He designed for Robert Sayer and his successors Robert Laurie and Jemmy Whittle, a series of humorous, non-political prints called 'drolls', 'well calculated', according to Laurie's and Whittle's 1795 catalogue, 'for the shop windows of country booksellers and stationers'. He also drew attractive watercolour portraits and scenes, a few book illustrations, and mild send-ups of fashionable types. This is a rare surviving study by Cruikshank, made for a print in a popular journal, offering fascinating insight into the working life of both Cruikshank and contemporary journalism.