In Pictures: Broadsides! Caricature and the Royal Navy 1756-1815 in Greenwich

| 30 October 2012
An image of a colourful 18th century caricature of a navy figure blowing a trumpet
George M Woodward, S W Fores, John Bull Exchanging News with the Continent. Trafalgar (published December 1805)© National Maritime Museum
This satirical print indicates the importance to both sides, around the time of the Battles of Trafalgar and Austerlitz, of news bulletins and propaganda offensives. Napoleon and John Bull stand either side of the Channel on cliff-tops, the French side inscribed Falsehood, the British side Truth.

An image of a colourful 18th century caricature of various naval figures sitting at a table
Thomas Owlandson (artist), SW Fores (publisher), Commanders Engaged at Sea (1785)© National Maritime Museum
Rowlandson’s print takes a swipe at the officers in charge of the Navy, accusing them of being decadent and unfit for service. The two admirals occupy their time gambling over a child’s toy while the proper objects of their attention – a navigational chart and plan – lie neglected underfoot.

An image of a colourful 18th century caricature of a figure being shouted at in a street
Thomas Legg (publisher), Jack in a White Squall, Amongst Breakers - on the Lee Shore of St Catherines (August 1811)© National Maritime Museum
This cartoon captures part of the hedonistic adventures of a sailor on shore leave. In the area around St Katharine Docks, notorious for its brothels, lodging-houses and taverns, Jack Tar is caught between an angry landlady who wants paying (on the right) and an irate prostitute (left)

An image of a colourful 18th century caricature of a navy figure and a fire-breathing dragon
E-s (artist), Thomas Tegg (publisher), The Yankey Torpedo (November 1813)© National Maritime Museum
This caricature was inspired by the invention of the torpedo by American engineer Robert Fulton, used to devastating effect against the British during the War of 1812 (1812-15). The torpedo is represented by the immeasurable terror of a horrific sea monster, the Devil, and Death. A defiant Jack Tar presents his bottom to the threat, inviting his enemy to "kiss my–tafferal" (part of a ship's stern).

An image of a colourful 18th century caricature of naval figures hanging from a noose
SW Fores (publisher), The Balance of Justice (March 1802)© National Maritime Museum
The unnamed artist behind this shocking print seems to suggest that no-one, regardless of rank, could escape justice. By implying that the life of a single officer was worth a dozen or more sailors, the print also points to a growing sense of injustice at the disproportionate punishments given out to those serving at sea.

An image of a colourful 18th century caricature of naval figures surrounding a crocodile
SW Fores (publisher). The Gallant Nelson Bringing Home two Uncommon fierce French Crocodiles from the Nile as a Present to the King (October 1798)© National Maritime Museum
This caricature was published in the wake of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile (1798). Anti-war politicians Charles Fox and Richard Brinsley Sheridan are shown in the guise of crocodiles, a recurring theme emphasizing Nelson’s exotic victory. Muzzled and in chains, they are led by the pro-war Nelson to George III and cry crocodile tears which fall on deaf ears.

  • Broadsides! Caricature and the Royal Navy 1756-1815 is at the National Maritime Museum until February 3 2013. See our Preview.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
Related listings (209)
See all related listings »
Related resources (64)
See all related resources »

Events

  • 1 mile
  • 2 miles
  • 3 miles
  • 4 miles
  • 5 miles
  • 10 miles
  • 20 miles
  • 50 miles
  • Any time
  • Today
  • This week
  • This month
  • This year

advertisement