An 1877 Italian allegorical representation of the British Empire as a mighty colossus (John Bull) standing astride the Dardanelles facing the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, and the Black Sea. In one hand the unusual sunglassed figure of John Bull holds a bag of Lire, in the other, a lit powder keg. Despite his comic appears, the figure is festooned with weapons, among them wealth (bag of gold), grenades, a fleet in one pocket, and a cannon in the other. At his feet, a teacher dressed in ancient Greek robes reveals the story of the Dardanelles to children of different peoples, including Greeks, Slavs, Americans, Chinese, Abyssinians, and various Europeans. A warning to the world against the duplicity of Russia, but also against Britain itself which, while here a savior, nonetheless expresses an 'unhinged' aspect.
Translation of the legend:
The colossus of Rhodes. History, do you see, my children? ... Your ancestors also told you that we could not have the freedom of the Dardanelles ... It is the same today and maybe it will last a long time ... Now it's the colossus, in the future it will be its demolisher who will make obstacles.
This plate references an episode of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). The Ottomans had by this time been soundly defeated by the Russians, but under pressure from Great Britain, Russia reluctantly accepted a truce. Despite the truce, Russian forces continued to move towards the Ottoman capital at Constantinople. The British fleet maneuvered to protect Istanbul and the Dardanelles and deter the Russians.
Census and Publication History
Satirical plate published in the supplement to the political newspaper Il Papagallo
, N. 41, in the 5th year of publication, published in Bologna, Italy. The title and the caption are in Italian. Il Papagallo
was a satirical magazine founded in January 1873 by Augusto Grossi (1835-1919), specializing in color-printed caricatures like this one. At its peak circulation reached 50,000, and in 1877 a Parisian version, Le Perroquet
, and London edition, The Parrot
, were launched. Il Papagallo
closed in 1915, when Grossi was 70 years old.
This map is rare with no other examples known. Not in the OCLC.
Augusto Grossi (September 23, 1835 - 1919) was an Italian designer, painter, caricaturist, and publisher active in Bologna in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. He studied at the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts and participated in exhibitions in 1855 and 1856. He developed a technique for drawing on lithographic stones using a fat-based pencil. Grossi's first caricature work was in the biweekly Il Diavolo Zoppo, published with Leonida Gioannetti (18?? - January 4, 1897), between 1863 and 1865. Later, in 1865, he and Gioannetti began publishing a similar satirical newspaper, La Rana (1865 - 1912). La Rana was published in Bologna and known for its highly graphic monarchist satirical commentary on European politics. La Rana was initially only in Bologna, but quickly received national attention due to Grossi's brilliant satirical illustrations and irreverent tone. After 1879, the satirical centerfold was printed in color, further popularizing the weekly. A French edition, La Grenouille, was published from 1872, but promptly censored as subversive when it published a biting caricature of French President Adolphe Thiers. In 1873, Grossi left La Rana to publish his own magazine, Il Papagallo, dedicated exclusively to international politics. Il Papagallo was particularly popular for its regular and stunning chromolithograph centerfolds. A French version of Il Papagallo Le Perroquet was launched in 1876, and an English edition, The Parrot, launched in 1879. The foreign editions maintained the same centerfold but had more regionally appropriate text. While the English edition never attained much traction, the French edition Le Perroquet eclipsed the Italian edition in sales. In 1915, when Grossi's decline in health and World War I made publication impractical, all editions of Il Papagallo ceased. All of Grossi's newspapers consisted of a single broadsheet, which folded in half made 4 pages, including a 2-page centerfold. He also collaborated with the Greek magazine Aristophanes, providing 4 color lithographs for 11 years. In 1910 Grossi donated his lithographic stones to the Archiginnasio of Bologna. At his death in 1919, the Resto del Carlino commemorates him: 'an old-fashioned gentleman, cheerful and humorous … solitary, beloved of the family.'
Le Perroquet, (Bologna) October 14, 1877.
Good. Some foxing.