14TH SEPTEMBER 1812: NAPOLEON ENTERS MOSCOW
A massive pearlware jug, c.1812, printed in grey and decorated in colours beneath the spout with a view of Moscow burning titled 'Hourrah Your Serene Highness,' the sides decorated with figural scenes titled 'A Russian Boor returning from his field sports' and 'Specimen of Russian Chopping Blocks', inscribed in both English and Russian, a little retouching to the enamel, 26.6cm.
On 24th June 1812 Napoleon crossed the Neman River with a force of 685,000 men. Following the French victory at the Battle of Smolensk between the 16th and 18th August, the Russians practiced a 'scorched earth' policy as they retreated. Having caught up with them by 7th September, Napoleon engaged Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov's Russian army at Borodino in what became the bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic Wars, with a total of 72,000 lives being lost. One week later Napoleon entered a deserted Moscow which the Russians torched the following day. With no peace proposal forthcoming from the Russians and French failure under Murat's command at the Battle of Tarutino on 18th October, Napoleon fled Moscow the following day. There followed the Battle of Maloyaroslavets on 24th October which, although a modest victory for the French, did not stop Napoleon turning what remained of his Grande Armée west. The hideous Russian winter took its toll and by the time Napoleon crossed the Berezina River in late November a force of just 27,000 soldiers remained. The salutation 'Hurrah Your Serene Highness' refers to Prince Kutuzov. A translation of the old Russian script reads 'Bringing home a bunch of spillikins for the pleasure of the children' and 'There were hordes of you weren't there? Well, that's the lot! That's what you were up to, trying to hack your way through; in future you won't give any trouble'. Both are after the satires published by Hannah Humphreys on 8th January 1813 being Cruickshank's rework of the original cartoon by Terebenev published in Russia in November 1812. Cf. David Drakard, Printed English Pottery, pls. 650 to 660.
Provenance: with Garry Atkins, March 1997.
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