Essential information

Opening times: 
10.00-17.00
Admission: 
Free
Location: 
National Maritime Museum, Second floor, Nelson Navy Nation gallery

Caricature as political weapon. The battle lines were drawn on paper as much as on the battlefield. Whose side are you on?

This is the earliest of Gillray’s portrayals of Bonaparte as the symbolic personification of France. Here he is caricatured in a manner deriving from earlier 18th-century lampoons against the French, particularly by Hogarth, in being shown semi-naked and emaciated.

Gillray also plays upon Bonaparte’s Corsican roots, notably in the Italian spelling of his name in the title. Seated atop a globe, he is being knocked down and has his nose bloodied by a stout British tar with the profile features of George III.

It is a simple but effective piece of propaganda, casting France with the dark side of the globe, and Britain with the bringing of light. At the same time, the fusion of the King with Jack Tar is a brilliant means of suggesting a national unity between the upper and lower orders that was, at this time, far from being the case.