'French Invasion or Buonaparte Landing in Great Britain' (caricature)

Hand-coloured print depicting 'French Invasion or Buonaparte Landing in Great Britain (caricature)'.

This is the first of a series of invasion prints by Gillray following the resumption of war between Britain and France in May 1803. In typical ‘anti-gallican’ style, it burlesques the attempt of the French to land on British shores, showing an orderly and upright British gun squadron on a cliff-top repelling the rabble of French troops, who are fleeing in disarray. In the centre of these is Napoleon on his white charger, looking over his shoulder in fright and flinging away his sabre. It is an exaggerated ridicule of the French army, which the contemporary German journal ‘London und Paris’ compared to equally hyperbolic and hysterical French caricatures of the English. The German critic made a parallel between the military conflict and that between French and British engravers:

‘As we write, the battle being waged between the caricaturists and engravers in London and Paris, with their witty, highly explosive missiles, has become as bitter and hateful as the real fight between the two nations: a war which is fought with a thousand menacing, fire-spitting cannons.’

This suggests the degree to which satires such as Gillray’s were perceived as an important part of the propaganda war. The spate of prints of the second half of 1803 that dealt with the threatened invasion was accompanied by numerous broadsides and other published propaganda designed to encourage patriotic sentiment and, more practically, the recruitment of volunteers.

Object Details

ID: PAH7338
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Gillray, James; Humphrey, H.
Events: French Revolutionary Wars, 1792-1802
Date made: Published 10 June 1803
People: French Army; English Army
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Primary support: 303 mm x 684 mm; Mount: 605 mm x 835 mm

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