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How to Invade England

Date: 1803
Overall: 250 × 350 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Caricature
Object No: 00054719

User Terms

    A handcloured caricature by and after Isaac Cruikshank titled 'How to Invade England'. It depicts a crowned Napoleon brandishing a sword while pointing a pistol at the head of a shackled John Bull, who is guarded by a French soldier in tattered and ill-fitting clothes.

    This caricature is one of a collection of seventeen created during the Napoleonic wars and highlights the fortunes of the French Emperor Napoleon during his rise and fall. It was during this period that the character of John Bull was created as a representation of the solid English yeoman and the caricatures reflect the attitudes common in England at the time.
    SignificanceThe collection is significant as a contemporary expression of popular British attitudes towards Napoleon and his era. The collection includes works by noted artists James Gillray, Isaac Cruikshank and Thomas Rowlandson and are all original works dating to the first quarter of the 19th century. They are significant in providing a political context for the early years of British settlement in Australia.
    HistoryThis caricature was published shortly after Britain had declared war on France and as the threat of a French invasion became stronger. Cruikshank’s caricature contrasts the liberty enjoyed by John Bull [England] with the tyranny exercised by Napoleon over the French by means of death (represented by the guillotine and coffin).

    Napoleon threatens John with the words: "I tell you John Bull – if you don’t instantly inform me whereabouts in England my army would meet with the best reception, I’ll blow your Brains out, and cut you to Pieces; – but if you tell me right, I’ll set you at / liberty!!"
    John Bull answers: "Mounsheer Bunny Party, you should send over your armies in Brandy Casks; you may smuggle in a million every night – that is the only way in which they will be welcome; for if you shew them in any other shape, men, women, & children will all join to tear them to pieces, so take good advice, & keep your Raggamuffins at home to prevent your own Subjects from asking how you became King – your Heroes will soon have enough to do in their own country. Kill me if you please: I shall never alter my opinion."
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