The Devil to Pay or Boney’s return from [Hell-bay] Elba

John Lewis Marks1815-03

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Napoleon left Elba on 26 February 1815 on his brig Inconstant, accompanied by seven smaller boats and a force of around 1,000 men. Lewis Marks shows him standing in the bows of a dinghy shooting down the dove of peace. The Devil rows the boat, anticipating with delight: ‘We shall wade through seas of Blood after this’. Death, holding the rudder, agrees: ‘A more expert hand at my Trade does not exist’. The boat is crammed with his tiny army. On shore, a troop of delighted soldiers rushes to greet Napoleon, while in the distance two Frenchmen carry off the fat gouty King Louis who sighs, recalling the peace of his exile at Hartwell, Buckinghamshire. The print was probably published after news had reached England of the king’s nocturnal flight from Paris on 20 March, just hours before Napoleon’s arrival there. This far from flattering depiction of the king shows that a caricaturist who depicted Napoleon as a bloodthirsty villain was not necessarily a supporter of a Bourbon restoration.

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  • Title: The Devil to Pay or Boney’s return from [Hell-bay] Elba
  • Creator: John Lewis Marks
  • Date Created: 1815-03
  • Physical Dimensions: 243 x 348 mm
  • Medium: Hand-coloured etching
  • British Museum website: 1868,0808.8184