Napoleon II’s Pulcinella toy & the Empire’s collapse

A tragic gallery dealing with 1832: contemporary/posterior mise-en-scène? Plus images of Napoleon as Polichinelle.

Le Duc de Reichstadt en poupée, mariée, mameluke, Polichinelle et baby.

Le Duc de Reichstadt en poupée, mariée, mameluke, Polichinelle et baby. Image: Henry d'Allemagne, Histoire des jouets (1902).

My key:

  • Duc de Reichstadt = Napoleon II (1811-32, TB), infant dress reflects his still only being 21 in 1832?
  • Mariée = his (married) mistress, Sophie of Bavaria (1805-72).
  • Baby = Maximilian I of Mexico (1832-67, in most unfortunate circumstances), widely believed to be their lovechild.
  • The (mechanical acrobat) Pulcinella & Mameluke toys = what has become of Napoleon I’s Italian and Egyptian imperial fantasies.

But perhaps d’Allemagne, not the toy manufacturer, is responsible for the composition of the image.

A popular print of the King of Rome (sic), now aged two, on a rocking horse in a The First Race of Childhood – happier times:

Another Polichinelle, with Harlequin and, apparently, Bobéche:

It seems to me that the 19th century Pulcinella acquires characteristics of Napoleon I – another swaggering bully, in caricature at least – and that in particular Pulcinella’s hat is often simplified to resemble that of the Corsican’s, even as Napoleon’s medical problems gradually converted him into a woman. Here is a nephew of Napoléon, son of the King in the Kassel, as a nicely humpbacked Polichinelle:

And this is apparently the great man himself as Punchinello – bone, date unclear:

There is probably a dreadfully earnest book somewhere about such things. But here, from d’Allemagne’s splendid book, is something infinitely more amusing:

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