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Russian caricatures of “Boney”

by on July 7, 2008

The thirty Russian cartoons in the Curzon Collection are indicative of the prints favoured by collectors. From the collection of the Grand-Dukes Nikolai and Mikhail Mikhailovich, grandsons of Nicholas I, they passed into the hands of A.M. Broadley, whose collection was built initially from the sale of W. Fraser in 1901 and augmented by the finds of the Parisian art dealer Godefroy Mayer. Broadley’s collection was finally sold in 1916 to George, Marquis Curzon of Kedleston (1859-1925) who bequeathed it to the Bodleian Library.

In the Curzon prints, the palm of victory always belongs to the Russian peasant, distinguished by his moral values, guarantors of an empire ruled by divine right. A close second to him is the Cossack, symbol of Russian invincibility. These two are the standard bearers of patriotic glory, national unity, and Russian supremacy.

Importantly, the dating of images, made possible by publication announcements in the press and by permissions of the censor, allows us to detect a continuation of the caricature campaign throughout the period: the threat of a new invasion in 1813 and the uncertainties of the German campaign were exorcised by constant references to the victory of 1812. The body of the Curzon collection, which is in an optimal state of conservation, is partially composed of later impressions, from 1815 to 1818 judging by the watermarks.

— Dr. Marina Peltzer
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