By definition, the caricature is like the lampoon, an art of underground struggle. As a consequence, many prints are not signed, or, when they are signed, caricaturists use monograms. It is therefore extremely difficult to credit such or such an artist, all the more so as their style is often mediocre as we have already pointed out in our introduction.
One should be more specific nonetheless. In England, which was not under the napoleonic Empire's rule, caricatures did not meet with any difficulty, be they political or legal. James Gillray and George Cruikshank did not have to resort to clandestine circulation and were able to sign their works. Such was also the case in Russia whose territory was only partially invaded by the Great Army and only for a short while. That is the reason why we know of several caricatures signed by Ivan Terebeneff (1780 - 1815). One must also take the military and political overthrows of 1813 - 1815 into account. First of all, with the retreat of the French armies, the Germans were able to express themselves more freely (works by Johann-Michael Voltz, particularly in 1814-1815). Secondly, the two French restorations enabled Gaston, Dubois, Constant Huet, Vivien, Lacroix and others to sign their works. The majority of caricaturists, in France and on the continent alike, remained anonymous all the same. It was best to be careful.
It is therefore extremely difficult to determine where these little parodic pieces were published and how they circulated. The archives, certain texts written by the Emigrés and a few secret royalist groups provide us with clues nonetheless.
First and foremost, one must not forget that certain prototypes were internationalized, as we pointed out previously in our introduction. It was the case for the Postman from the Rhine, which was known in Germany, in France, in Holland and in Italy. Other models from England were translated into French, such as The New Farce which was Performed in Paris with Great Success, based on a work by Cruikshank. This caricature was probably printed in England while being aimed at France. It was also the case for the Volant corse, also based on Cruikshank. How did these caricatures make it over to the continent? This is where one should call upon the "Chevaliers de la Foi"/Knights of Faith, a secret catholic and royalist association, without forgetting that the allies probably travelled with many caricatures they gave away or sold to the people they met.
The Knights of Faith, an active group of opposition, was created in 1810 by Ferdinand de Bertier (1). Convinced as G. de Bertier de Sauvigny recalls (2), that the Revolution was the result of a masonic plot (3) together with ideological manipulation, Bertier was attempting to restore the Ancien Régime through similar undercover means, caricature being just one example. This legitimizes the use of the term "paradox" at the beginning of our introduction. According to Ferdinand de Bertier, the aim that had to be followed was that of a re-reversal of values. Under the cover of charitable work, Bertier's ideas made their way through aristocratic, and then popular circles. Despite the lack of written information -the utmost secrecy had to be kept- it seems as though the Knights of Faith might have been behind a few popular risings at the beginning of 1814. It is probably also safe to credit them with the circulation of anti-napoleonic caricatures and lampoons. For they played an undeniable part in circulating false news at the end of the Empire.
An implacable organization, totally devoted to the Empire, was immediately set up. Public opinion was closely watched. Any attempt at opposing the regime was quashed. Written by one François, the Bulletin du ministère de la Police générale was published every day. It provided information on the tricky question of public opinion, which was entirely submitted, and on the deeds of certain suspicious characters. Therefore, little information is given to us by way of caricature especially between 1805 and 1814, a date at which a decaying political regime allowed a great number of works to enter on to national territory.
Shortly before the ministry was reinstated in 1803 - 1804, a great many caricatures and royalist prints were published. Most of them were confiscated. This is how a witness describes a caricature to Pierre-Marie Desmarets (1764 - 1832), the head of a division at the Ministry of Police chief, on 21 frimaire year XII (December 13, 1803)(5) : "Certain unimaginative caricatures, some of which are particularly indecent, are in the hands of a few characters. Their descriptions are all one can obtain. Here is one of them: a tailor is helping the First Consul with a new suit and the tailor is from Boulogne; Bonaparte is admiring the clothing and particularly appreciates the embroidery; he wishes to put it on but cannot put his arm through the sleeve; the caption bears the following words: Jamais je ne passerai cette manche-là /I will never be able to put on this sleeve, etc." (signed Candide). Such a caricature naturally refers to Napoleon's attempts at landing in England after breaking the Amiens peace-treaty (there is a pun on the word "manche" which in French refers to the Channel).
In fact, the events of 1803 - 1804 -the revival of royalist plotting which resulted in the execution of both Cadoudal and the duke of Enghien and the death of Pichegru- led to Fouché's reinstatement: he was clearly the only man capable at the time of repressing the revival of opposition.
More and more reports were therefore written in 1805. Royalist prints were seized. On the 18 fructidor, year XIII (September 14, 1805) (6), a police report reads : "A print dealer was arrested on the 16th after a print representing the duchess of Angoulême with Louis XVIII was found in his shop. The dealer claimed he had already sold six prints and that he had none left but that he was expecting some others. According to him, the marquess of Paroy is the owner of these prints. He was immediately arrested. 50 prints were found in his home together with the complete collection of every similar print that had been published since 1793. Among these papers, poems against His Majesty and the grand écuyer [Caulaincourt] -of whom M. de Paroy is a relative- were found. M. de Paroy is M. de Bondy's brother-in-law and a relative of M. de Sérent. The questioning and the study of the papers are being taken care of."
A report dating back to the 13 vendémiaire, year XIV ( October 5, 1805) gives an account of the search carried out at the marquis de Paroy's premises along with his questioning (7). The police discovered that "when he was arrested he was busy engraving a print representing Diogenes putting out his lantern while pointing at His Majesty".
This event leads one to believe that clandestine workshops producing anti-napoleonic caricatures existed in Paris. The workshops probably grew from 1813-1814 until the Cent-Jours episode reduced them to silence once again.
Other extremely rare documents were listed by Ernest d'Hauterive (8). For instance, the report of Friday October 24, 1806 mentions the discovery on the premises of Martinet, a print-maker and a publisher, of a caricature representing " doctor Gall (9); consulted by the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia. At the bottom, the following words can be read: the doctor : "So! You are still mad?" - The Emperor : "Austerlitz could not cure me". The doctor : "You too ?... What about your wife ? "The King : "Doctor, she is running across the country.".
On February 12, 1810, Joseph-Marie Portalis (1778 - 1858) the son of the "ministre de cultes", then the senior member of the Council of State, was made the Directeur général de la Librairie (11). He very quickly had censors at his disposal (Lacretelle the young, Daunou, Esmenard, Schiaffini) (12), for, according to article 10 of the decree of February 5, 1810, "nothing which might undermine the duties of the subjects or the interests of the State had to be published". According to article 5, printers had to be commissioned and on oath. Guarantees had to be approved by the Home Office. The names of several printers were thus removed from the lists, a decision which led a few of them to protest such as Marie-Charles Joseph, the chevalier of Pougens (1755-1833), on September 1, 1811.
A registration system was being set up (this will prove a very precious system as far as we are concerned). In the meantime, Fouché was sacked from the Ministry of Police on July 3, 1810 and replaced by Savary, the duke of Rovigo (1774 - 1833), the latter not having his predecessor's calibre. He did not know the administrative machinery of the Police and did not keep any informers. He was merely an underling who sometimes had no scrupules, and who proved to be so during the Duke of Enghein's execution in 1804. His lack of initiative precisely enabled organizations such as that of the Knights of Faith to gain in stature, along with general Malet's conspiracy in 1812.
If the noose of the police had tightened after 1810, it had done so in an administrative, clumsy and totally useless fashion. The National Archives are full of reports and denunciations of every kind. Even pedlars were pursued. (13). All this brought very few results and the fall of the Empire left the field open for the opposition.
During the Cent-Jours episode, a supposedly more liberal period, the Direction générale de la Librairie was placed directly under the authority of the Ministry of Police, thus adding to the already repressive role of this institution. (14).But things were getting out of hand and the defeat of Waterloo put an end to the strong policing that various additional acts of the Empire's constitution had kept secret.
With the Direction générale de l'Imprimerie et de la Librairie, registers listing all the prints that were published at the time had been created (article 11 of the decree of February 5, 1810). Naturally, none of them mentions any anti-napoleonic caricature from 1810 to 1814: in those days anonymous prints went round clandestinely. From April 1814 however, anti-napoleonic caricatures were officially listed in the dépôt légal. It is the case for a work by Maleuvre, Buonaparte refusing peace and preferring war (15), or Napoleon, the Great Master of the Order of the Extinguisher, an anonymous caricature (16). One could quote many other examples whose references are listed in the catalogue of the exhibition.
Suddenly, in October 1815, the publication of anti-napoleonic caricatures came to a halt and we can no longer quote but The natives of Saint Helena rising against Napoleon, registered by Delacroix on October 13, and Gulliver in the island of giants, registered by Gaston on December 14, the last known anti-napoleonic piece. (17). Yet, at the end of 1815, papers were freed from police control and were able to take advantage of the change in the political situation in favour of the monarchy thus publishing a number of caricatures: the Journal des Arts quoted the last judgement by Vallardi on October 1, 1815. Yet the Journal de Paris became the most faithful publisher of caricatures from August to October 1815, when these works disappeared.
J. Grand-Carteret also quotes the author of Souvenirs de Londres en 1814 et 1816 : "On the way back to our hotel, we saw a large crowd that had gathered in front of a shop in the Strand. The meeting was a noisy one and the agitation suggested that some people were actually boxing. We soon learned that a new caricature was the reason for all the upheaval. What a triumph for the artist! " (19).
On the other hand, on the continent, in France, Germany or Italy alike, an attempt was made to curtail public opinion. It was necessary to re-establish order and after the Congress in Vienna, it was impossible to allow the people to express themselves freely any longer despite the important part they had played in liberating the different countries from the French invader. Caricature, be it nationalistic as it was in Germany or (to a lesser extent) Russia, be it strictly political and ideological as it was in France, appears to be the first example of freedom of expression within Europe. And the 19th century demonstrated that the people wished to inform their sovereigns of their needs in whatever possible fashion. Prussia and Britain were the only countries where the spirit of caricature was received favorably on government level. These were probably the only countries where the relationship between caricature and the political regime was translated as far as political ideas are concerned.
(1) Ferdinand de Bertier was the son of the last intendant of Paris, Bertier de Sauvigny, who was killed in Paris on July 22, 1789.
(2) see J. Tulard, Dictionnaire Napoléon, Paris, Fayard, 1987, art. "Chevaliers de la Foi", p. 417.
(3) According to the views expressed by the abbé Barruel in his book Abrégé des Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire des Jacobins, Hamburg, 1798, 2 vol.
(4) National Archives, F 7 9779 1 ; Bulletin des Lois de l'Empire Français, Brumaire year XIII, t. 1er, p. 114 - 116.
(5) National Archives, F 7 3688 22 ; A. Aulard, Paris sous le Consulat, Paris, Cerf/Noblet/Quantin, 1909, t. IV, p. 566 - 567.
(6)National Archives , AF IV 1494 ; E d'Hauterive, La police secrète du premier Empire, Paris, Perrin, t. 1, 1908, Report of the 18 fructidor year XIII, p. 73.
(7)National Archives , AF IV 1495 ; E. d'Hauterive, op. cit., t. 2, 1913 p. 112.
(8) E. d'Hauterie, op. cit., t. 3, p. 34 ; National Archives , AF IV, 1498.
(9) François-Joseph Gall (1758 - 1828) was a German doctor who invented phrenology
(10) National Archives , F 18 10 A XXI , Bulletin des Lois, août 1810, t. 12, p. 71ss.
(11)National Archives , F 18 10 A XXII.
(12) Decree of April 13, 1810, (National Archives F 18 10 A XXVII, 199).
Piere-Louis de Lacretelle (1751-1824), a writer, Pierre-Claude-François Daunou (1761-1840), a member of the Convention and a librarian ; Joseph-Alphonse Esménard (1769-1811), a poet.
(13) Report by Guairard, in charge of the administrative bureau of chef the "Direction générale de la Librairie" (National Archives , F 18 10 A XXIV, 222 à 227).
(14) Decree of March 24, 1815, (National Archives , F 18 10 A XC1, 417).
(15) National Archives, F 18 * VI 2, file 1 (1813 - 1814), fdeg. 48 recto, July 20, 1814, ndeg. 301.
(16) F 18 * VI 3, file 1815 - 1816, fdeg. 24 verso, July 29, 1815. Registered by Pétion.
(17) The same, fdeg. 38 recto et 46 verso.
(18) J. Grand-Carteret, Napoléon en images (estampes anglaises), Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1895, p. 42.
(19) J. Grand-Carteret, op. cit., p. 42 - 43
(20) Catal. Schriften zur Karikatur und Kritischen Grafik. Napoleon I in der deutschen Karikatur, Hanover, Wilhelm-Busch - Museum, 1995, p. 15.
(21) Catal. op. cit., p. 19
(22) First copy published on March 15,1814.