LITTLE BONEY Sneaking into PARIS - with a white feathein his tail.
Etching with original hand colour, drawn and engraved by W[illiam] E[lmes], published by Tho[ma]s Tegg, No 111 Cheapside, January 12 1813. "Price One Shillin Coloured".
Image size: 240 x 350mm overall.
Good/very good condition throughout. A crisp impression, colour authentic and still bright.
LITTLE BONY Sneaking into PARIS is a lovely example of it kind. The scene is set in Paris after dark. Centre stage Bonaparte, elaborately attired, strides towards a doorway shining his lantern upon it. From his backside protrudes a plume of white feathers, one particularly prominent. He is beckoned on by a smaller figure, Napoleon's aide-de-camp Caulaincourt and followed by 'a Russian Cur'; by his foot a large frog leaps forward and another one peeps out from behind the sentry box. Whilst the watchman snoozes he shines a lantern into the face of the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper looks down upon the two of them saying, "Rap-Rap-Rap - Who comes there - what Midnight disturbers are you." "It's only Count Vincen' - Alias - Little Bony. The Imperial Fugitive - returned from Victory" says Coulincourt. "Alias - who - Alias the Divil you mean", the gatekeeper replies.
Says Bony: "hist—is that the Croaking of Frogs I hear - I mistake - its' only the Sycophant Lads in Paris - hurra-ing at my unexpected and precipate [sic] return. thank my Luckey Stars - I have got out of the clutches of them Damd Cossack Curs" - or I should have been food for Bears - long before this time."
'Napoleon reached Paris on 18 December 1812, having left his army on 5 December. He was almost unrecognizable from the hardships of the journey but drove unchallenged through the Arc de Triomphe; on arriving at the Tuileries at 11.45 the sleepy porter who admitted him was in his shirt'. [Caulaincourt, 'Memoirs', 1935]. See also: Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949).
The British Museum lists over 45 caricatures by William Elmes, describing his work as "genuine caricature, broadly burlesqued, naively drawn".