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A scene at the London Museum, Picadilly, or, a peek at the spoils of ambition, taken at the Battle of Waterloo, being a new tax on John Bull for 1816 &c., &c.

Description

Abstract:
In this charming satire, a group of unruly English men and women swarm the exhibition of Napoleon's carriage and his personal effects held at Bullock's London Museum, at the Egyptian Hall, 22 Piccadilly. The carriage is the main attraction of the exhibition, which also features paintings, fabrics, a coffee set, a chamber pot and "one of Napoleon's Shirts," among other items. A bust of Homer placed above a cabinet containing the chamber pot smiles amusedly at the crowd. A large crowd swarms into the carriage. Half of the figures attempt to push their way into the box, the other half climb on top. A couple has installed themselves in the driver's bench and gesture as if to drive a team of horses onwards. Others stand by the body of the carriage and inspect "zabor gashes" and a large storage box attached to the carriage that contained "The Iron [Bed] Stead." On the left side of the image, visitors examine other artifacts. A gentleman uses a magnifying glass to inspect a box that once "contained upwards of 100 articles of Solid Gold, &c.", behind him another gentleman displays one of Napoleon's shirts to a group of women who finger the fabric. On the far left a woman leads her son into the adjoining room, exclaiming, "Look at the Horses Tommy." A grotesqued French man stands weeping into a handkerchief in front of a bust of Napoleon. He mourns, "Ah! Mon dear Empereur dis is de shicking sights." This print has been trimmed at the edges and mounted inside a window cut into another sheet of paper.
Notes:
On the one hand, this image satirizes the indecorous behavior of the London public who attended spectacular exhibitions such as this. But also it demonstrates that Napoleon's artifacts, which for the French held the cultural status assigned to religious relics, are little more than mere objects. While the carriage, the garments and the other trappings may have once inspired awe (or once bewitched the French public), their powers have been drained by their new location as spoils of war. The use the viewers make of the objects is one more level of humiliation for Napoleon.
Inscription: Pubd. by H. Humphrey St James's St London Jany 1816.
Printed Signature: G. Cruikshank fect.

Access Conditions

Rights
No Copyright - United States
Restrictions on Use
Collection is open for research.

Citation

"A scene at the London Museum, Picadilly, or, a peek at the spoils of ambition, taken at the Battle of Waterloo, being a new tax on John Bull for 1816 &c., &c." (1816). Napoleonic Satires, Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:232462/

Relations

Collections:

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