'Fighting for the Dunghill, or, Jack Tar Setting Buonaparte. (caricature)'

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, benighted 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.

Object Details

ID: PAD4792
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Gillray, James; Miller, John Sebastian
Events: Napoleonic Wars: Duckworth's passage of the Dardanelles, 1807
Date made: Published 20 November 1798
Exhibition: Broadsides! Caricature and the Navy 1775–1815
People: Bonaparte, Napoleon
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Caird Fund.
Measurements: Primary support: 231 mm x 323 mm; Mount: 406 mm x 560 mm

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