The Lost Museum Archive

"The Bottle" by George Cruikshank

Narratives of fall and redemption were a popular mode of temperance advocacy and were created and sold as prose, drama, song, and illustration. These two engravings were part of a series of eight (titled "The Bottle") by British illustrator George Cruikshank.

The Bottle is Brought Out for the First Time

The first image (above) of domestic order and harmony is captioned "The Bottle Is Brought Out for the First Time: The Husband Induces His Wife 'Just to Take a Drop.'" Images two through five illustrate the family's decline as the father loses his job, the family sells clothes and furniture "to Supply the Bottle," they end up begging in the street, and "Cold, Misery, and Want, Destroy Their Youngest Child." The sixth image (below) is captioned "Fearful Quarrels, and Brutal Violence Are the Natural Consequences of the Frequent Use of the Bottle." In the final two images, the father, "a Hopeless Maniac" because of drink, kills his wife with a bottle, "the Instrument of All Their Misery," as the two remaining children look on. The American Museum purportedly contained a wax tableau of "Three Scenes in a Drunkard's Life" that ended with the drunkard killing his wife with a gin bottle while their son watched.

Fearful Quarrels and Brutal Violence are the Natural Consequences of the Frequent Use of the Bottle

Source: Plate I and IV from George Cruikshank, "The Bottle," 1847. Complete series of illustrations at