- Museum number
- Object: Twelfth night or, what you will!-
Below the title: 'Now performing at the Theatre Royal Europe, with new Scenery decrorations [sic] &c &c &c'. A view of the stage flanked by two tiers of stage-boxes, the heads and shoulders of the orchestra forming the base of the design. On the stage is a large Twelfth Cake, its surface forming a map over which the Tsar (right), the King of Prussia (left), and the Emperor of Austria are disputing. Castlereagh sits between Frederick William and Francis, facing Alexander, holding up a large knife and a trident-like fork. He says: "I have been assisting to devide the Cake but I dont much like my Office the the [sic] Gentlemen seem so dissatisfied." Alexander sits beside a large portion inscribed 'Russia in Europe', its surface sparsely scattered with fir-trees, Cossacks, a sledge, and buildings. Adjoining this is 'Poland', smaller, but with more buildings; he puts both hands on Poland, and turns to a Russian officer (right), the Grand Duke Constantine, saying, "Here Brother take possession of this peice I think I can manage them both besides this has more plumbs and figures on it which will mix with mine." The Grand Duke stoops with a hand on his sabre, his fur cloak flying out behind him, as if he had hastened to the Tsar. He is thin and degenerate-looking, and wears elaborate hussar uniform with a square cap bordered with fur. Across Alexander's knee lies a paper: 'Proclamation to the Poles—Ann ye Blood— Def—d'. Frederick William, holding a small knife, sits beside the (small) portion marked 'Prussia', but points to a larger adjacent piece marked 'Saxony'. He says: "If I add this Saxon peice to my Prussian one & put the figure of an Emperor on it, I think my share will look respectable." The Emperor of Austria, who faces him, extends his arms over 'Germany', saying: "I shall get my peice cut as large as I can, I dont think it is large enough." In the middle of the cake, where all the countries except Prussia meet, there is an irregular cavity. All three sovereigns wear uniform with cocked hats; Wellington is in uniform, but bareheaded. Behind Constantine and in the shadow (right) are four spectrelike sovereigns in begging attitudes, addressing the Great Powers round the cake who ignore them. One, probably Ferdinand of Sicily, kneels on both knees; the other three are probably German princes: Saxony, Bavaria, and Würtemberg. There is a background of clouds. On these is seated a meretricious-looking Justice, a bandage over one eye only, and holding her (flaming) sword against her shoulder. She holds up her scales above the cake, but these are lop-sided, being violently deflected by two blasts inscribed 'Avarice' and 'Ambition' issuing from a cloud (left).
In the upper box on the left Louis XVIII sits in profile to the right, staring down at the conference. He has a playbill: 'Theatre Royal Rheims The Coronation of Louis le Grand'. Behind him stands Bernadotte, much caricatured, and taking snuff with a cunning leer; he says: "Now I have got Norway I can get a wind to blow which way I please." Seated on the front of the box, next Louis XVIII, and with his back to the stage is a fat Dutchman, representing the Prince of Orange; he holds out an orange to Princess Charlotte, who looks away from him with unmannerly contempt. His playbill is a 'Map of the United Netherlands'. He is dressed like the Dutchman of English caricature, with a pipe thrust through the band of his high-crowned hat. In the box below stands John Bull, turning from the stage to take the hand of a man in the feathers and war-paint of a Red Indian who represents the United States. He says: "I hope you wont disturb the peace [altered to 'peice']." His hat is on the head of his dog, whose paws rest on the front of the box.
On the opposite side Ferdinand VII stands in the front of the upper box, reading with eager delight a 'List of Prisoners to be Hung for supporting a Free Constitution'. He wears a crown decorated with tiny gibbets and dangling corpses, a central cross supporting a wheel (instrument of torture). Behind him stands a tall hideous figure holding a cross from which floats a streamer: 'Holy Inquisition'; he wears a black gown and Jesuit's biretta; in his left hand is a dagger, and in his belt are a knife and axe. In the box below sits the Sultan wearing a jewelled turban, scowling morosely, beside another turbaned oriental; behind them stands a Death's Head Hussar.
The musicians have paused and look at each other in surprise or amusement. The first violin has a music-book inscribed 'Avarice and Ambition an Old Song to a New Tune'. The player of the French horn on the extreme left has another tune: 'Yankee doodle's Come to Town Yankee doodle dandy.'
- Production date
Height: 250 millimetres
Width: 360 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
During Nov.-Dec. 1814 the Congress of Vienna was at a deadlock over the interdependent questions of Poland and Saxony in which Castlereagh acted as mediator. The uniform depicted possibly denotes Wellington, who replaced Castlereagh, arriving in Vienna on 3 Feb. Alexander was determined to secure almost the whole of Poland, occupied by Russian troops as a result of the campaigns of 1813-14. He had designated his brother as Viceroy. Prussia's demand for the whole of Saxony as compensation for the loss of Prussian Poland was opposed by Austria. Eventually Frederick William, who as in Nos. 12509, 12622, aims at an imperial crown, obtained the northern part and the King of Saxony recovered the remainder. All the states of Europe which had taken part in the war were represented at Vienna by plenipotentiaries, but the minor states are rightly represented as petitioners or spectators. It had been agreed that the conduct of the business should rest with the 'leading Powers', i.e. the four Allies, who were to retain the 'initiative', by which they meant 'decision', and France and Spain. Bernadotte had extorted the consent of the Allies to the annexation of Norway by Sweden in return for military aid. After a short campaign in Norway he opened negotiations and union with Sweden was declared on 4 Nov. 1814. For the breaking of her engagement by Princess Charlotte see No. 12280, &c.; she refused to renew it in a letter to the Regent of 27 Feb. 1815. 'Corr. of George IV', 1938, ii. 37 f. Peace between England and America was signed at Ghent on 24 Dec., the news reaching Vienna on 1 Jan. On the return of Ferdinand to Spain he swept away the Constitution, re-established the Inquisition and instituted a reign of terror, with mass executions, see No. 12510, &c. The satire expresses the disappointment in England that the true pacification of Europe should be subordinated to selfish ambitions against the principles of justice and nationality. See C. K. Webster: 'The Congress of Vienna', 1934, 'Foreign Policy of Castlereagh', i, 1931, pp. 327 ff., "England and the Polish-Saxon problem at the Congress of Vienna", 'Trans. of the Royal Hist. Soc.', 1913; Satow, "Peacemaking, old and new", 'Camb. Hist. Journal', i. 24 ff. (1923); 'Camb. Hist, of Poland', 1941, ch. xii; H. Nicolson, 'The Congress of Vienna', 1946, pp. 118 ff. This and other satires on the Congress derive from attacks by the Opposition on 'the monstrous proceedings of the robbers at Vienna'. 'Memoirs of Horner', ii. 220. See also Nos. 12320, 12499, 12500, 12501, 12506, 12515, 12519, 12520, 12528, &c., 12533, 12542.
A 'Twelfth Cake' or 'gâteau des rois' (for Twelfth Night, 6 Jan.), represented either by a map or cake which is to be shared between the powers of Europe, is the theme of Nos. 4958, 5229 on the First Partition of Poland, as well as of Nos. 12522, 12525, 12533, 12537. The theatrical setting resembles and probably derives from No. 10549 by Gillray.
Reid, No. 454. Cohn, No. 2056. Broadley, i. 369.
Reid adds 'G. H invt' in the inscription.
- Not on display
- Associated names
Associated with: Alexander I, Tsar of Russia
Associated with: Karl XIV Johan, King of Sweden and Norway (Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte)
Associated with: Princess Charlotte of Wales
Associated with: Konstantin Nikolayevich
Associated with: Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquess of Londonderry
Associated with: Ferdinand VII, King of Spain
Associated with: Frederick I, King of Württemberg
Associated with: Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor and Francis I, Emperor of Austria
Associated with: Frederick Augustus I and III, Elector and King of Saxony and Grand Duke of Warsaw
Associated with: Frederick William III, King of Prussia
Associated with: Louis XVIII, King of France
Associated with: Mahmud II
Associated with: Maximilian I Josef, Elector and King of Bavaria, Grand Duke of Berg
Associated with: William Orange
Associated with: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number