W. Brooke

The Imperial Shaving Shop.

Etching, handcolored, 1813.
Image size 6 1/2 x 13 3/8" (16.4 x 34 cm) plus decorative border.
Good condition with period handcolor.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 97180
Price: $350.00
Publisher :
The banner reads, "Satirist 1st February 1813."

This satirical piece mocks some of the key figures in the Napoleonic Wars, which were raging in Europe at the time. From left to right are the Prince Regent George IV of England, Napoleon from France, Emperor Francis I of Austria (who was formally known as Francis II when he served as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire), Napoleon's son and Francis I's grandson Napoleon II, King Frederick William III of Prussia, King Joachim Murat of Naples and Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

The Prince Regent (England) is depicted as the dominant figure in the group. Not only is he larger than everyone else, he is lavishly dressed and sits upon a luxurious dais. He looks down upon Napoleon, who struggles with a tub of soapy water, as the Frenchman says, "Begar me can no reach to shave de dam mustache of dat vile Regent for dis basin of water between us." The comment may be a reference to the English Channel which separated England and France, making war with the heart of the United Kingdom difficult.

The Prince Regent, speaking in a refined manner, responds, "I shall continue to wear my whiskers as I please in spite of all opposition." And indeed, his whiskers are quite full.

Behind Napoleon, his father in-law, Francis I, Emperor of Austria waits impatiently. "I am only half shaved! When will my terrible son in Law finish his job?" He says with half his whiskers gone. The marriage of his daughter to Napoleon in 1810 had brought peace to Austria. His commentary may be a question of when Napoleon would once again cast his gaze upon Austria. Napoleon II cries helplessly in his grandfather's arms.

Beside them Frederick William III, King of Prussia, sits with the hilt of a broke blade in his hand. His eyes are turned upward and he says, "Oh hone! I am shaved close enough!!!" His whiskers are completely shaven and at his feet is the broken half of his blade, inscribed "Fredk. the Great" in mockery.

On the far right is the Russian Tsar, Alexander I. He is depicted in a way that shows him as being inferior to the Prince Regent, but superior to the other nations. He sits upon a simple, circular throne and wears an ornate military uniform. Half his whiskers are covered in frozen soap suds. Napoleon had come close to shaving him, but had failed because of the bitter Russian winter.

The Tsar says, "No Monsieur! by St Alexander Newski no shaving here!!!" as he kicks King Joachim Murat of Naples away. Murat is depicted as a jackass with donkey ears and a grotesque nose. Alexander's bear chomps down on his backside before he can escape. Murat was one of the prominent figures in the French invasion of Russia that failed so miserably.
18th-19th Century Subjects , Caricatures and Satirical , English Satire & Caricatures