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Napoleonic Era Caricature – Une Scene du Deluge – Defeat of Prussia in the War of the Fourth Coalition

A Scene from the Flood of 1806

Napoleonic Era Caricature on the War of the Fourth Coalition
Handcolored Eau Forte Engraving by “Forioso”

Une Scene du Deluge survenu dans le Nord en 1806

Caricature of the Defeat of Prussia and its allies (Russia, Saxony, Sweden and Britain) by Napoleon and the forces of France in the War of the Fourth Coalition.  The image is at the same time a humorous adaptation of a melodramatic canvas by Girodet shown at the Paris Salon of 1806.

The Russian Tsar and Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III dangle from a branch in an effort to escape the rising waters of the rising flood. In the texts, a with a reference to King Friedrich Wilhelm’s wife Queen Louise who influenced his decision to go to war: “Cette femme me prend par mon fabile et m’entraine dans sa chute” (That woman has latched onto my weakness and is bringing me down with her). The first figure represents the Tsar.  The second figure, who is partially dressed as a man partially as a woman in a skirt appears to represent Queen Louise, and says:  “Cher Prince, nous n’avons plus d’espoir qu’en toi” (Dear Prince, you are our last hope.” And the last figure, King Friedrich Wilhelm, whose feet are just above the water, says “Tiens bon, tiens bon ma femme” (Hold on tightly, my wife.).

A redheaded John Bull figure personifying England sits atop a pile of rocks and sandbags, watching as his factories are swept away. He exclaims: “Mes Magasins, me fabriques sont perdues. Gott Damm, je vais morir de faim et de misere.’ (My storage halls and my factories are lost. God Damm! I will die of hunger and misery.)  At the bottom left the Prince of Hesse is drowning.

The engraving is signed in the plate “Forioso Fecit.”