- Museum number
- Object: The Life of | Napoleon, | A | Hudibrastic poem | in | fifteen cantos | by | Doctor Syntax, | embellished with | Thirty engravings, | by | G. Cruikshank. |
Title-page. The title is engraved on a (tattered) tricolour flag which hangs from a (broken) staff headed by an eagle, placed horizontally and supported (left) on a ladder, (right) on a blasted tree. Five stages of Napoleon's life are depicted, and form a border to the flag. Below the ladder is a tiny rocky islet (Corsica). Napoleon, a ragged barelegged boy wearing a bonnet rouge, steps on to a large mushroom (cf. No. 11057) in order to reach the first rung of the ladder. In his left hand is a firebrand. The two lowest rungs are 'Plunder' and 'Bloodshed'. The next section of the ladder is a guillotine, the blade inscribed 'Murder'. A second Napoleon, dressed as the general of the Italian campaigns and later, waving a sword which drips blood, climbs to the top of the guillotine and grasps the highest rung. The apex of the design is a third Napoleon, wearing crown, laurel-wreath, and coronation robes, seated astride the arc of the Northern hemisphere which appears above the flag; 'France', 'Continent', and 'England' (the map being upside-down) are depicted as on a map, he straddles across the two former, the last is just out of reach; his arms are extended and he holds out the hand of Justice (see No. 12247) and the orb. He is lit by slanting sunlight surrounded by dark clouds. From these (right) lightning flashes and forked darts strike down upon the fourth Napoleon, who falls head first, dropping eagle, laurel-wreath, and fasces, with crown, sceptre, and sword, all broken. The last Napoleon is a pendant to the first. He sits in profile to the left on a big mushroom on a similar islet (Elba). He wears petit chapeau and greatcoat, and sits in deep dejection with bowed head and folded arms (see No. 12229, &c.). A stormy sea connects the islands and forms the base of the design. The other plates are Nos. 12455-83 (Reid, Nos. 366-94). Cf. No. 12902.
Hand-coloured etching and aquatint
- Production date
Height: 221 millimetres
Width: 136 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
Cf. the popular German prints (1814) on Napoleon's career: Hennin, No. 13649 (reproduced Dayot, 'Napoléon', p. 359, with the title "Les divers degrés de la vie de Napoléon"); 'Stufenleiter der Grösse und des Sturzes Napoleons' (reproduced Broadley, ii. 124), with a revised version: 'Buonapartes Stuffen-jahre', and a Swedish version. Other life-histories are Nos. 9534 (1800), 11053 (1808), 12205. Cf. 'Histoire Du-Grand Nicolas', De Vinck, No. 9651.
Reid, No. 365. Cohn, No. 153. Broadley, i. 368 f., 372 (reproduction in colour).
The plates (aquatints), dated from 10 Nov. 1814 to 23 Jan. 1815, are here placed according to their order in the book (B.M.L. C. 116. f. 4). The plates only are in the Print Room (coloured and uncoloured except for No. 12454, coloured, and No. 12481, uncoloured only).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number