- Museum number
A design in two compartments. On the left.: 'Alexander and Frederick swearing over ye Tomb of Frederick ye Great to extirpate ye Corsican Butcher from ye earth.' A second and probably alternative inscription: 'Alexander ye Great at the Tomb of the Prussian Achilles.' Alexander (l.), slim and elegant, and the more solid Frederick William (r.) stand with clasped hands, while raising their swords so that the crossed blades frame a medallion profile in relief of Frederick II. The monument, 'Sacred to the memory of Frederick', is framed by a pointed arch supported on military trophies.
On the left. a similar pointed arch forms the back of a throne for Napoleon whose seat is a terrestrial globe on which he sits arrogantly astride, his feet resting on the heads of the kneeling sovereigns. He wears a cocked hat with the dress of a butcher, with rolled-up sleeves and an apron, and with a butcher's steel dangling from his waist. He holds a butcher's knife like a sceptre; his l. arm akimbo, with a paper: 'Treaty of Tilsit', in his hand. On the globe the words 'Spain', 'Prussia', 'Austria', 'Germany', are just legible. A scroll floats from Napoleon's head containing an illegible word. In place of the trophies flanking the tomb are two supports to the back of the throne: (l.) a bear muzzled and chained, the chain held by Napoleon, and (r.) a chained figure, apparently of a woman, and if so, of Queen Louisa. Alexander (l.) and Frederick William (r.) kneel obsequiously at the conqueror's feet, hand on breast. The former looks up as if in adoration, the latter looks meekly down. Below the design: 'Alexander ye Great & Frederick ye Little.' August 1807
Pen and black ink with red chalk
- Production date
Height: 232 millimetres
Width: 334 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
A. M. Broadley describes another version of this design in his own collection, from which the title has been taken. In this the sovereigns kneel before Frederick II's tomb, 'swearing with uplifted swords "eternal enmity to the Corsican Butcher"'. The adjacent design is inscribed 'Alexander the Great and his Prussian Friend becoming footstools to the Corsican Butcher' [cf. BMSats 10091].
The famous midnight oath of eternal friendship, of 4-5 Nov. 1805, when Queen Louisa was present in a black cloak, is contrasted with the situation created by Friedland and the Treaty of Tilsit, see BMSat 10750, &c.
Broadley, i. 261 f.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 Feb-Aug, BM, Rm 90, Bonaparte and the British
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number