- Museum number
- Object: Introduction of Citizen Volpone & his Suite at Paris-Vide, The Moniteur,& Cobbetts Letters.
Napoleon, enthroned, receives the obeisance of Fox and his party. The centre figure is the enormous Mrs. Fox, burlesqued, and full face, who curtsies, fan in hand; her coarse features and patched face indicate Gillray's view of her antecedents, cf. BMSats 5352, 5587, 10589. On her right and next Bonaparte, O'Connor bends forward, chapeau-bras; from his pocket projects a pamphlet: 'Trial of O'Conner at Maid[stone]'. Opposite Bonaparte, and on his wife's left, Fox much caricatured, and with gouty swollen legs, makes a low bow, right hand on his breast, hat held out. He wears court dress with a sword. From his pocket issues a document: 'Original Jacobin Manuscripts'. Behind him Erskine, tall and self-important in barrister's wig and gown, bows with a complacent smile, holding out a brief bag in his left hand. Behind him Lord and Lady Holland (who is meretricious-looking) are bowing. In the foreground and on Fox's left, Robert Adair, much emaciated, grovels on the floor, his head between his arms which are extended along the carpet, in a gesture of abject homage. From his coat pockets project 'Revolutionary Odes, by Citizen Bow-ba-dara' and 'Intelligence for the Morning Chronicle.'
Napoleon, very thin, sits on a canopied throne whose arms terminate in globes covered with maps of the world, each supported on the shoulders of a naked manikin. On one globe the Consul rests his right hand, clutching it with long predatory fingers; the left hand is extended towards Fox. He wears military uniform, with a huge plumed cocked hat, and (like Fox) a black bag attached to his coat collar, below his cropped hair. His throne is on a circular dais, covered with a fringed carpet, with a tasselled cushion for his feet. Behind it is a carved irradiated sun, reminiscent of Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil, but with eyes which look down in surprise at the First Consul. On each side of the throne fierce Mamelukes stand at attention, holding sabres, and with pistols in their belts. 15 November 1802.
- Production date
Height: 250 millimetres
Width: 355 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947) Fox was in France (one of many visitors, see BMSat 9864) from 29 July to 17 Nov. He and his party, which included Lord Holland and Adair, were presented to Napoleon on 3 Sept., at the first of the monthly levees after the assumption of the Consulate for life. He was sovereign in all but name, and had moved to the Tuileries, adopting monarchical ceremonial. Erskine, Counsellor Ego, see BMSat 9246, was presented at the same levee, being received by the famous question 'Êtes vous légiste?'; Adair figured in the 'Anti-Jacobin' (25 June 1798) as 'Bawba-dara-adulphoola' (Bob Adair a dull fool), and was there said to write pro-French articles for the 'Morning Chronicle', cf. BMSat 10253. Alderman Combe was also presented. 'Cobbett's Annual Register', ii. 225. Fox's papers indicate both his politics and his researches in the French archives for his 'History of James II'. He had announced his marriage (1795) to Mrs. Armistead on leaving England; travelling with her in 1788 evoked hostile comment: Gibbon called it 'scandalous impropriety', see BMSat 7370. For Fox's attitude to France cf. BMSat 9735, &c. Fox and Erskine had given evidence for O'Connor in 1798, see BMSat 10082, &c. For Fox's association in France with O'Connor, an exile and a general in the French Army, see Trotter, 'Memoirs of Fox', 1811, pp. 32 ff. See also Airlie, 'In Whig Society', 1921, pp. 41 ff.; cf. Farington, 'Diary', ii. 36, 82, &c. Cobbett's 'Letters to Fox' ('Weekly Political Register', reprinted 'Cobbett's Ann. Reg.' ii. 338-46), on the visit to Paris, are mentioned by Windham (21 Sept.) '. . . I now fully adopt Cobbett's suspicion'. See BMSats 9890, 9891, 9893. For Fox as 'Citizen Volpone', cf. BMSats 10253, 10558, 10571.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 285 f. (reproduction). Wright and Evans, No. 269. Broadley, i. 157. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 Feb-Aug, BM, Rm 90, Bonaparte and the British
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number