S & J Abbott Ceramics Plus
© S and J Abbott Ceramics Plus April 2021
Siege de la Colonne de Pompee-Science in the pillory.
A print by James Gillray, It is lettered with title, artist's name and publication line 'Etched by Js
Gillray, from the Original Intercepted Drawings/London.Publish'd March 6th 1799. by H.
Humphrey, 27 St James's Street.' In a period frame, size 50 x 41.5 cm
Turks and Bedouins besiege the base of a tall Corinthian column, On the small platform eight
Frenchmen are crowded together; one, with wings attached to his shoulders and arms, steps into
the void, stretching out his arms to a balloon, already wrecked by musket-fire. Their commander
(most likely Bonaparte), wears a large plumed cocked hat and an order, he shouts to the
besiegers, holding up a placard 'Vive Mahomet Qui protegoit les Sciences'. A man kneeling
beside him clasps him in terror; from his pocket issues a paper: 'Projet pour Bruler la Mecque'. A
stout man (left) is about to hurl down a celestial globe and a scientific instrument; another
prepares to fling a large book: 'Le Ciel Revolutionné ou les Constellations Sans-culottisés'. A lean
fanatic is about to commit suicide: he holds up a bottle labelled 'Tone', and clasps another
labelled 'Louvet Opium'; in his belt are weapons inscribed 'Romme' and 'Roland' (all of whom
excepting Louvet killed themselves). A terrified face bites a book inscribed 'Savary'. A thin
scholar (right) wearing a skull-cap is perhaps Monge. A ninth man falls from the summit (left);
from his pocket issues a paper: 'Projet pour rendre les Hommes Immortels'. A stork (left) flies
upwards from the column. Two scientific instruments (one electric) and six books fall from the
column: 'Ebauche d'un Systeme de Législation pour une Colonie d Anthropophages' ; 'Traité sur la
Guillotine par un Théophilanthrope'; 'Sur le Reedification de la Tour de Babel'; 'Encyclopédie Edit:
de Paris Vol: LX.'; 'Tableau de Logarithms'. The lowest, 'Projet de Fraternisation avec les
Bedouins', hits a Bedouin and strikes him to the ground. On the ground is 'Le Contrat Social'. The
besiegers fire at the Frenchmen or hold up their spears waiting for them to fall. One fires at an
exploding balloon (right), 'La Diligence d'Abissynie' from which the (tricolour) boat has already
fallen. One of the occupants falls head first towards the spears below; another descends by a
parachute which has been traversed by the shot at the balloon; he is about to be transfixed by an
arrow. Falling books are 'Les Ruines par le Cit: Volney'; 'Traité sur la Velocité des Corps
Descendans'; and 'Theorie de l'Aerostation'.
In the foreground right two fat Turks sit impassively back to back on a camel which gazes
upwards; they are confident and incurious; one smokes reflectively. Arabs and Africans are in
violent motion, some firing, others with spears. Behind (left) men gallop up on asses. A man (left)
looks up through the wrong end of a telescope. In the background are pyramids.
Below the title, in four columns is printed:
'It appears by an Intercepted Letter from General Kleber, dated "Alexandria, 5 Frimaire, 7th Year
of the Republic" [27 Nov. 1798], that, when his Garrison was obliged to retire into the New-Town
at the approach of the Turkish Army under the Pasha of Rhodes, a party of the Scavans, who had
ascended Pompey's Pillar for Scientific Purposes were cut off by a Band of Bedouin Arabs, who
having made a large Pile of Straw and dry Reeds at the foot of the Pillar, set Fire to it, and
rendered unavailing the gallant Defence of the learned Garrison, of whose Catastrophe the above
Design is intended to convey an idea. -
To study Alexandria's store
Of Science, Amru deem'd a bore;
And, briefly, set it burning.
The Man was Ignorant, 'tis true,
So sought one comprehensive view
Of the Light shed by Learning,
Your modern Arabs, grown more wise,
French vagrant Science duly prize;
They've fairly bit the biters.
They've learnt the style of Hebert's Jokes;
Amru to Books confin'd his Hoax;
These Bedouins roast the Writers.' 6 March 1799
Stock No SAP0951 Price £900
Print of the Month
For January 2021 we feature a hand coloured etching from 1799 giving an English view of a difficulty
Napoleon was having in Egypt. It is not sympathetic to the French but is full of incident of conflicting
cultural ideas of the period.
‘Bonaparte Premier Consul de la Republique Francais'
This year marked the 200th anniversary of the death in
exile on St Helena of the French Emperor Napoleon. Here
is a rare print to be seen in the UK. It was printed in
France c.1802. The source of the image of Napoleon From
a painting by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761 - 1845) and
engraved by Levachez. It shows Napoleon Bonaparte as
First Consul of France and the review of the troops on
August 17th 1802 at the Tuilleries Palace below. This was
issued to mark Napoloen’s assumption of power after he
declared himself 1st Consul for Life in August 1802. The
prints of Napoleon most usually seen in the UK are
satirical and anti French, a selection of these are available
on our site.
Stock No SAP0797 Price £750