Auction 148, Lot 56

Famous Caricature of Napoleon

"[Untitled - Napoleon Bonaparte Portrait]",

Subject: Cartographic Miscellany, Napoleon, Germany

Period: 1814 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

2.1 x 3.7 inches
5.3 x 9.4 cm

This satirical cartoon depicts Napoleon Bonaparte in a style derived from Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a 16th century Italian artist who is famous for his portraits represented by flowers, fruits and other common objects. In this caricature, Napoleon's hat is a black eagle, representing Germany, with its talons gripping Napoleon's head. His face is cleverly composed of corpses, with his collar symbolizing a river of blood. His coat is a map depicting major battle sites in Germany. Napoleon's medal of the Legion of Honor is replaced with a spider in its web. The coat also features a golden epaulette made from a hand, with the Eye of Providence on the wrist and fingers named for the primary powers engulfed in the Napoleonic Wars against France (England, Russia, Austria, Prussia and Sweden). The hand appears to be tugging on one of the threads of the spider's web, ready to unravel it, symbolizing the beginning of Napoleon's demise.

This caricature was originally created by the Henschel brothers immediately after the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig to commemorate German victory over Napoleon. The cartoon was first issued as a New Year's card, often with accompanying text describing each element, and was soon copied in various printed versions all over Europe.


Condition: B+

Original color with light scattered foxing.

Estimate: $600 - $750

Sold for: $350

Closed on 2/19/2014