"The Works of James Gillray from the Original Plates with the Addition of Many Subjects Not Before Collected"
This print was published just after Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile. He is shown in the forefront of British admirals and naval heroes, serving up victories for ‘Old Grumble-Gizzard’, the British public, to satisfy its appetite for ‘frigasees’ of enemy ships, washed down with 'True British Stout'. On the splendid victories which crowned the British navy at this period. Fox, Sheridan, and the Whigs, who, it was pretended, sympathized with the republican French, are alarmed in the utmost degree, at the destruction which is going on.
[Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London; gillrayprints.com]
Buonaparte, hearing of Nelson's Victory, swears by his Sword,
Sheet size: 16 5/8 x 11 1/2 inches
NOTE: This print is not from the 1847-1851 Bohn edition (it has no plate number) but IS printed on both sides, so is not an earlier lifetime print. Some sources would put this at around 1830 from the McLean edition of Gillray prints. Another possibility is that Bohn printed this without numbering to have hand-coloured and sold individually.
This is effectively a triumphalist mocking satire of Napoleon in Egypt, through celebratory reference to the resounding victory over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile some four months earlier. The French leader is ridiculed as a set of contradictions. Gillray plays principally upon Napoleon’s stature, for which he is shown attempting to compensate by the extraordinary and extravagant uniform he wears, which is in marked contrast to that of the dispatch rider beyond. The latter (whose mount in the Egyptian context is transformed from a horse to a camel) looks on frozen in astonishment and fear at the uncontrolled outpouring his message has provoked in his leader, his leaden pose pointing up the overblown theatricality of Napoleon’s. The latter unleashes his sabre marked ‘Egalité’, but it is dripping with blood, like the dagger tucked into the fulsome tricolour sash around his waist. His ‘Muslim pose’, by which he tramples the report of Nelson’s victory, at the same time recalls David’s celebrated painting ‘The Oath of the Horatii’. In short, Napoleon is burlesqued as a contradictory combination of the personification of French Revolutionary principles and an orientalized despot, marked most clearly by the crescent moon on his enormous hat, the camel and the oriental tent in the background.
The satire’s ridicule resides finally in the play of word and image that is typical of Gillray. Matching the swaggering pose and excessive costume of Napoleon is the unchecked stream of words he utters. The English viewer is invited to regard both his gestures and words as hollow and empty in the face of the victory at the Nile.
[Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London]
"John Bull taking a Luncheon:
|Gillray's "Political Series" Plates 1-366
|Gillray's "Miscellaneous Series" Plates 367-582
|Gillray's "Suppressed Series"