- Museum number
- Object: Boney at Elba or a madman's amusement.
Napoleon, wearing a straw crown and decked out with straw, flourishes a straw sceptre, while he holds a firebrand to a mock-cannon on a wheeled gun-carriage completely formed of straw. Flames and thick clouds of smoke rise from burning straw. Napoleon (right), his head in profile to the left, says: "Now these fellows shall know what the Conqueror of the World can do! Corporal? D- you Sir! don't you blow up the Bridge till I order you [see No. 12108, &c.]." A French soldier standing beside him holds up an arm in protest, saying, "Ah Diable Mai you was burn Le Materiel, you burn your playtings." Napoleon's straw crown is an elaborate structure, like a very tall Papal tiara in two tiers. Straw forms a ribbon or scarf that goes over his shoulder, and the sash round his waist, both having grotesque projecting bunches. A cloth is tied round his neck over his uniform, and falls to the ground behind him, to represent a royal robe. At his feet are two papers: 'Project to Invade the Moon', and 'Grant of the Senate 6,000,000'. On the left is a row of four posts covered with straw to represent men. Each has a ribbon, and an order suspended from the supposed neck, showing that they stand for Alexander, Frederick William III, Francis I, and Bernadotte. Their orders - large disks, are inscribed 'Russia' (above a bear), 'Prussia' (above a Hohenzollern eagle), 'Austria' (above a Habsburg eagle), and 'Sweeden' (above a cross). Behind (left) is a rocky mountain on which is a large tower, inscribed 'Elba Babel', formed of diminishing concentric circles, the upper part cut off by the margin. Behind Napoleon (right) is the sea; a fisherman rushes towards his boat, saying, "He will frighten all the fish and burn my boat I'll be off in time." After the title:
'"So high he's mounted on his airy Throne,
"That now the wind is got into his Head,
"And turns his brain to Frenzy. - Dryden.'
20 April 1814
- Production date
Height: 247 millimetres
Width: 352 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
There were conflicting reports of Napoleon at Fontainebleau after his abdication: 'Some persons represent him as being in a state of despair approaching to frenzy, and as being with difficulty prevented from killing himself; others on the contrary say, that he is composed and even cheerful....' 'Examiner', 17 Apr. Published on the day of the departure from Fontainebleau for Elba. Cf. No. 12216, &c. For Napoleon in Elba see Nos. 12223, 12230, 12232, 12247, 12249, 12250, 12251, 12252, 12255, 12258, 12260, 12261, 12265, 12267, 12286, 12299, 12307, 12308, 12319, 12320, 12454, 12483, 13490. For his escape see No. 12506, &c.
Broadley, i. 357.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number