JF Ptak Science Books Post 1297
When is the eye a head; when is the face a body?
At least that’s what the Germans and Russians would’ve thought, and in this case in particualr, a German artist named Johann Michael Voltz, an artist and draftsman who in addition to rendering uniforms and such made this vicious, metamorphic satirical (“hieroglyphic”) portrait of “the Destroyer”. Napoleon’s eye has been replaced by the head of one of his dead victims, his Maori-tatto-like face covered with the bodies of ten victims, representing the millions who were probably killed over those years. The general’s head is protected by the French eagle (its eye forming the cockade), while his epaulets have turned into a hand (which is identified as Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance) which pulls a bit of the spider web which now forms the Legion of Honor ribbon.
The image was reproduced numerous times during the wars (and for the first time in 1813), but this one is unusual because it was made in Russia at the end of that particularly bad time--more so for the French of course than the Russians. (Even though the Russians lost 300,000 people in this campaign, the French army was devastatingly defeated, 95% of it consumed, 20,000 remaining out of a force of 600,000.) The Russian artist has replaced the map of Napoleon’s torso–which had started out life in Germany, with the “Elbe” being the principal river–into the Russian campaigns. Gone are the German cities and rivers, replaced by those of Russian names.
According to another source, the portrait contains: “The French Eagle, crouching, forms the chapeau en militaire: the Red Sea represents his throat, illustrative of his drowning armies: the visage, is formed of carcases of the unhappy victims to his cruel ambition: the hand is judiciously placed as the epaulet, drawing the Rhenish Confederacy, under the flimsy symbol of the cob-web: and the spider is a symbolic emblem of the vigilance of the allies". Capper Album. BM Satires 12204.
And another version:
And yet another: