Monday, July 30, 2012

Napoleonic Era Political Caricatures - English

From the collection of the University of Washington Libraries:

One notable difference is their propensity to ridicule his appearance, especially his size (which was not particularly small for his nationality and time). The more he threatened British and Russian interests, the greater the graphic indignities to which he was subjected, including, according to George, being “grilled and pitchforked, booted around, farted on, frozen, eaten alive by lions, bears, ogres and Cossacks.”  He shrank in size, from dwarf to imp, until he was almost snuffed out by his enormous plumed hat.

The English caricatures were generally published as a swift response to actual events, such as the Treaty of Tilsit or the Blockades of the 1806/07. They always portray Napoleon in his role as military commander, never as emperor since they did not recognize his claim as a legitimate ruler of France.

Finally, in the later prints as Napoleon began losing both battles and popular support, Death becomes his constant companion and he is often associated with the Devil.

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