- Museum number
- Object: The departure of Apollo & the muses-or- farewell to Paris.-
Apollo drives (right to left) a chariot from Paris, in which sit or stand four of the nine Muses; Hercules follows with his club across his shoulder, holding on a leash two lions whose heads are on the extreme right. Apollo's lyre is his seat, and for a whip he uses his bow, which has a floating string. On the head of one of the Muses (Erato), sits a little cupid with his guitar under his arm. Another Muse holds an easel and brushes, a third holds a book, a fifth walks behind the car. The chariot is drawn by a pair of horses, the near horse ridden by Blücher as postilion. They seem intended for two of the four bronze horses from Venice which had been placed on the Arc du Carrousel. In front of these is harnessed a beast representing (though not resembling) the Lion of St. Mark, ridden by Wellington, who says: "Go along Blucher let us haste to restore the Stolen Goods." The lion's (erect) tail is labelled 'For St Marc' (it had been on the fountain of the Invalides). Behind the chariot is a corner of a building representing (but quite unlike) the 'Louvre', the name over the doorway, in which, at the top of a flight of steps, Louis XVIII talks with Talleyrand. The King, with swathed gouty legs and supported on a stick, points behind him to the departing chariot, and says to Talleyrand (right): "Dear Talley, persuade them to leave us a few of those pretty things for my CHAMBERS they will pacify the Deputies & amuse the people." Talleyrand: "I have tried every scheme to retain them but it seems they have at last found us out & are not to be humbuggd any longer." A man, evidently Denon, director of the Museum, leans from a sash-window beside the door, holding up a handkerchief, and extending his right arm in an appealing gesture. He says to Apollo and his train: "Don't go yet Ladies & Gentlemen Pray Stay with us a little longer. We could keep you for ever & shall always regret that we were forc'd to part with you." Clouds of dust rise from the horses' hoofs and the chariot wheels. In the background and middle distance a procession of wagons filled with works of art winds away from Paris. The last (and nearest) is an open cart inscribed 'Holland' filled with large pictures and a huge portfolio. A soldier rides the galloping horse. In front is a similar cart inscribed 'Italy', also with a soldier-postilion. Both men say: "Every man his own." This is filled with pictures, with a Roman bust and a classical urn. On the extreme left is the back of a covered wagon inscribed 'Venice', filled with pictures, a cross, and Church plate. In the distance winding up-hill (left to right) are wagons inscribed 'Vienna' and 'Berlin'. From the top of an arch adjoining the Louvre workmen are removing a statue, and seem to be demolishing the arch. A soldier plies a pickaxe, making the statue tilt over. A second man ascends a ladder, a third stands on a broken part of the summit, next a tripod with a pulley which is being used for demolition. Through the arch is seen a statue on the top of a column (in the Place Vendôme). Above the doorway of the Louvre is a central monogram, 'NBI', flanked by symbols of art, a palette, brush, &c.
c. October 1815
- Production date
- 1815 (c.)
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', IX, 1949)
In 1814 the Allies had permitted the French to retain the works of art appropriated by Napoleon: in 1815 it was a condition of the capitulation (3 July) that they should be returned to their countries of origin. This roused resentment in France and controversy in the British Press. The different Powers began removing their own treasures under armed guard; the position was then regularized by Wellington (who thus incurred odium in Paris) and Castlereagh. Wellington's letter of 23 Sept. to Castlereagh (Gurwood, 'Dispatches', xii. 641) appeared in the newspapers ('Examiner', 15 Oct.). The 'Morning Chronicle' called the removal 'this act of pillage'. The Parisians were especially enraged at the removal of the Venetian horses (see John Scott, 'Paris revisited in 1815 . . .', 1816, ch. x; 'Memoirs of Romilly', 1842, ii. 391 f.; 'Examiner', 2-29 Oct.). Denon had pointed out to Napoleon the principal works of art to be chosen for the Louvre; on his resignation, Oct. 1815, Louis XVIII expressed his satisfaction at the zeal with which he had tried to retain them. The English in Paris, who had been very popular by contrast with the Prussians, suddenly incurred bitter hatred. See D. M. Quynn, 'The Art Confiscations of the Napoleonic Wars', 'Am. Hist. Rev.', Apr. 1945, and Nos. 12461, 12606, 12620, 12622. Cf. No. 12746.
Reid, No. 345. Cohn, No. 1051. Listed by Broadley.
The following extract from Tim Clayton, "Waterloo" (2014) is relevant here: "Sergeant Thomas Morris of the 73rd foot found himself in a pleasant encampment in the Bois de Boulogne, making occasional visits to Paris. Whilst guarding the Duc de Berri's establishment, Morris 'had an opportunity of witnessing the removal of the celebrated Group of Horses, of which Napoleon had despoiled the Venetians and which were now about to be restored'. They were lowered from the palace gates into wagons with a large guard of English and Prussians, while the Parisians looked on in gloomy silence. The Allies got on with this cultural work quickly, and Morris witnessed most of it. Soon after this episode, 'The celebrated gallery of pictures, selected by Bonaparte, at the various places he had conquered, and deposited in the palace of St Cloud, were claimed by the respective parties from whom they had been plundered.' Morris was on duty during the removal and saw many of the famous pictures but regretted that he was 'not connoisseur enough to describe them'."
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number