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George Cruikshank

Receipt pledging ‘not to caricature His Majesty in any immoral situation’ 19 June 1820

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This small receipt is inscribed with the flamboyant signature of George Cruikshank, one of the greatest satirical printmakers of the early nineteenth century. Like many of his colleagues, Cruikshank often took aim at the chaotic private life of George IV, whose numerous mistresses, gambling and drinking were the subject of endless public fascination. The receipt records a payment to Cruikshank of one hundred pounds, in return for an agreement ‘not to caricature His Majesty in any immoral situation’.

This is one of a large number of such receipts in the Royal Archives recording payments to printmakers and publishers by George IV’s staff in an attempt to stop prints which criticised the king. Despite the large financial outlay, these payments often had little effect. Cruikshank would continue to publish satires on George IV’s political conduct and, in October 1821, produced another sly dig at the king’s romantic liaisons.