Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Napoleon caricatured

his caricature looks a bit like an answer to Gillray's caricature, Tiddy-Doll, the Great Maker of Gingerbread , in which Napoleon was baking new kings. Here, on the contrary, kings of wax, made by the Emperor, are melting or are broken: Murat, king of Naples (macaronis), Joseph,king of Spain, Jérôme, king of Westphalia, Elisa, great-duchess of Tuscany, Louis,king of Holland. All these puppet sovereigns, members of Napoleon's family, are exhibited in a fairground where they can be seen for 2 sols. The Emperor cries his ruin and despair at such a sight. The word "cire", which in French means "wax", is of course a pun on the word "Sire", title given to sovereigns. This caricature illustrates the influence of popular culture over anti Napoleon propaganda. This image pictures a fun fair surrounding, very prone to have an effect on common people. In fact, caricatures are often theatrical scenes where Napoleon is the main character as in numerous lampoon plays which blossomed in 1814-1815 (see Bonaparte in Lyons, 1815 ; Bonaparte or the abuse of abdication, 1815).


Arenenberg, Napoleonmuseum. 
Attributed to George Cruikshank, this caricature was issued like others, simultaneously in English and French in answer to a paragraph in theMoniteur which announced that the King of Rome had attended on his third birthday (March 20, 1814) a review of the troops. This was at the time when Napoleon, after having given regency to Marie-Louise was leading the campaign of France. The Emperor shows his son a parade of veterans whose mouths are pinned shut with Légion d’honneur medals. The entire perfidy of the boastful sovereign who compares himself to Alexander the Great, shows through his speech. He sends off his soldiers to die by deceiving them with tales of glory when in fact they only serve his sole ambition, in this case, reconquering Europe. The poor little king of Rome is nastily caricatured "riding his wooden horsy". It is his answer to his father's words that provokes laughter because, acting on scatology, it is nevertheless extremely realistic. As in many caricatures, the picture takes place in theater scenery. This explains the bubbles containing the words of the actors of the performed farce.

As for The Wax-Maker's ruin, this caricature pictures Napoleon in fun fair surroundings. The sales talk given by the cosaque who shows the animal to the spectators (the owners of the plate), is written on an explaining strip. Napoleon, chained by Russia and England, is likened to "a tiger of the worst kind". The other animals or figures are the cat, Joseph king of Spain ; the satyre, Jérôme king of Westphalia ; the piglet, Cambacérès, always associated with the most obscene sexuality, living with a dog whose habits are just as dubious, probably the marquis of Aigrefeuille (born in 1745), who like him, enjoyed lustful activities. The « fat red bird of paradise, the great preacher», is cardinal Fesch, uncle of the Emperor ; the monkey may be Talleyrand ; as for the donkey, it is general Hulin (1758-1841), often condemned for the part he played in the duke of Enghien's trial. Governor of Paris, his jaw was smashed by general Malet in 1812, when he discovered the plot against Napoleon.

This caricature not listed in Clerc, probably because it is in fact anti-royalist, shows two figures, heads dug in rolling over each other in a sort of to and fro motion. They are Napoleon and Louis XVIII. The print dates back to the Cent-Jours episode, the Emperor is once again back on his feet as he says, the king, on the contrary, falling head first while France, a poor emaciated figure, is relieved of the huge weight she had to carry before the king's departure. The game of fart-in-the-face recalls the grotesque brotherhood of the "mad mother" of Dijon, once very lively. It perfectly describes the overthrowing of values established during the carnival and which is here extended to politics.

Based on the theme of a well-known popular game, this caricature is ironical about Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo. The Emperor has not managed to find his corner and remains alone in the center of an area, the angles of which are occupied by Blücher, Wellington, the tzar of Russia and the Austrian Emperor. He has no other choice but to "drop" his conquests, or to banish his ambitions in a scatological way while Blücher points out:that « it does not smell of a violet,» an allusion to Napoleon's nickname in 1815. The four corners game was also used in another caricature The four corners game or The five brothers.

This print is the French version of George Cruikshank's caricature, issued on March 30, 1814. The Prussian field-marshal Blücher, his British counterpart Wellington , Schwarzenberg, the Austrian, and general Voronzoff,the Russian, are flogging Napoleon's dismembered body which is reduced to a spinning top. From this point on, the fictitious body appears: each part of the sovereign represents an abandoned conquest, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy. This caricature is similar to other works based on the themes of the Corsican wheel or the four corners game.

The primary idea of this caricature comes from an anonymous English engraving which was issued in June 1814, and showed Blücher, the Prussian field-marshal, hitting a drum in which Napoleon is seated with his pants down (see Grand-Carteret, p. 157, n° 317). But Lacroix goes further than the English caricaturist by likening the Emperor's body to a great drum being struck by a British soldier. This is one of the biggest mutations Napoleon's body had to suffer with that of the spinning top and the wheel. The great drum refers to the fact that since Leipzig, the whole of Europe, and in particular the British in Waterloo, started to double their attacks against the Emperor.

This caricature is a typical example of a pun in which the text fully completes the image. On the battlefield of May, on June 1, 1815, the field marshal's oath of loyalty to Napoleon is concluded by a "nose pinch" ("Ney" sounds like "nez" which means "nose" in French) since the caricaturist is poking fun by way of scatology, the rallying of the most famous of field marshal's to Napoleon. One has heard of the glory he won at Waterloo and of his tragic fate. Ney was shot on December 7, 1815.

One may wonder how a satirical play as provocative as this one could have been advertized in theJournal de Paris and how it could have been given to the General Direction of Bookshops as it is indicated in the bottom right corner. It directly refers to the kidnapping of the Duke of Enghein in German territory on March 15, 1804. The marquess of Caulaincourt had been entrusted with the mission of arresting him. This explains the hatred of the Royalists who tried to lower him by nicknaming him "Colin", a typical common name. He was accused with being a manservant under Napoleon's service and was never forgiven for the part he played in the kidnapping. Goldsmith, inThe Secret history of the cabinet of Bonaparte (1810), says of him that he is the : « the secret performer of all the assassinations prepared by the executioner of Europe. » In fact it seems that Caulaincourt had been informed only too late of the Duke of Enghien's execution (hereby represented by a defenseless sheep which is being dragged towards the Kell bridge in Strasburg) and was sincerely sorry about it. The title of this caricature pictures a pun based on the name of Caulaincourt.

As in Levachez's caricature, the pear was ripe, this plate pictures a proverb. As in other works, Napoleon' body takes the shape of an object to which he is likened.

This scatological caricature illustrates Napoleon "dropping" his conquests and consulting a doctor on the "regime" (in French this word has double meaning, it can mean political regime or diet) he must follow. The latter is obvious, it is the Ancien Régime, the monarchy. The pun provokes laughter as much as the picture itself.
According to the dialogue written under the plate, one can date this caricature back to the first Restoration.

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