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George Cruikshank was one of Charles Dickens's close friends and illustrators. Behnes was a highly celebrated sculptor and mentored many important artists. He became the Sculptor-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria upon her accession.
When Behnes died in 1864, Cruikshank lobbied for a bronze bust of the artist to be presented to the National Gallery, a campaign that was soon abandoned. Charles Dickens also knew Behnes personally as his letters testify, perhaps meeting him through Cruikshank who illustrated a number of Dickens's novels. Although it is uncertain, Dickens's seemed to have planned to sit for a portrait-bust for Behnes, but this never materialised.
A whimsical letter in which Dickens's speaks of a lost dog, specifically a 'setter', a nineteenth-century colloquialism of the verb 'to sit', seems to allude to this event. This letter was published in the Dickensian in 1906 with the date 1855, however, the Pilgrim edition of 'The Letters of Charles Dickens' has established that this was a mistake and that it was written on 11th June 1839 instead.
H 75 x W 34.5 x D 25.5 cm
on front: BEHNES SCP.
across the front: George Cruikshank