- Museum number
- Object: Explanation of the arms of Napoleon Bonaparte.
An altered version (like No. 12205) of No. 11057, from the original plate. The (printed) title continues (in place of '... now the Curse of Europe'): 'The Tyrant of France, who created himself Emperor of the French 18th May 1803 [sic] was dethroned by the French Senate 2d April 1814; compelled to abdicate for himself and his Family 6th April, and his Life spared on condition of being transported for the remainder of his days to the Island of Elba; whither he was sent under escort on the 20th of April, 1814.' The shield, sinister supporter, crest and motto are the same, but the dexter supporter is altered, apparently by Rowlandson, from 'The French Devil' (Talleyrand, now a supporter of Louis XVIII) to Death, a skeleton holding up an hour-glass. This has necessitated the re-drawing of the Gallic cock at his feet, but it pecks at a crucifix as before. The (printed) text is as before (allusions to Jaffa, d'Enghien, &c.) except for the addition to the title and the descriptions of the supporters: '. . . The Gallic Cock, vainly pecking the crucifix, is symbolic of the Corsican's impiety.' The description of 'The Corsican Devil' is altered to 'Satan, wearing an Iron Crown,... cutting down the Cap of Liberty, and accompanied by the Serpent and Hyaena, the attributes of the Corsican Emperor's wily and sanguinary reign'. The inscriptions (now obsolete) hanging from the mouth of the hyena are altered to: 'Cambaceres', 'Davoust', 'Augereau', 'Sebastiani', 'Vandamme', 'Savory'.
c. April 1814.
- Production date
- 1814 (c.)
Height: 470 millimetres
Width: 301 millimetres
- Curator's comments
On 11 April 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to renounce his throne and agree to exile in Elba. His armies had been devastated in his invasion of Russia and his European empire was all but destroyed. George Cruikshank created this print, Explanation of the arms of Napoleon Bonaparte, to celebrate this victory. It is one of several mock-heraldic satires of his achievements; earlier versions were published in 1807 and 1808. The elaborate crest above the shield shows the world on fire from Napoleon's incendiary attacks. His supporters are Death and the Devil. The shield is divided into eight compartments representing scenes from his tyrannical career. At the bottom, is his motto, 'As a roaring lion, and a raging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people. Proverbs, Chap, xxviii. Verse 15'. A copy was also produced in French.
(Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
For Napoleon's abdication and banishment see No. 12216.
Broadley, ii. 239 f. Reid, p. 34.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018 12 Jan-11 Mar, BM, 90a, Pots with attitude: British satire on ceramics
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Not known how acquired, but annotated by Dorothy George in the 1940s
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1891,1116.179