James Gillray (1757-1815) / Circle of – Pounding Boney

Out of stock

Pen and ink with grey and colour washes on laid paper. Inscribed upper left: ‘Now Boney you may talk of your Mortars, but now I have got you into my Mortar I’ll Give you a Proper Pounding’. The caption above the image of Napoleon lying in the mortar reads: ‘Murder O’ my Belly what a Pain’. The term ‘Pounding Boney’ was invented by James Gillray from around 1803 and is written at the centre of the bottom of the page. It is possible that a printed version of this drawing exists but at present we have been unable to locate any examples.

Sheet: 8 7/8 x 8 2/8 in. (22.5 x 21 cm.) Part watermark; Fleur de Lis.
Mount: 15 1/4 x 14 5/8 in. (38.8 x 37.1 cm.)

Condition: The paper has discoloured with age and has two tears which have been consolidated by lining onto archival backing paper. A Piece of missing paper on the lower right edge has been infilled. All necessary work has been carried out by an accredited paper conservator.


Napoleon became known as a spoilt little man who compensated for his lack of height by seeking power, war, and conquest; in reality, he stood at average height. As he was often surrounded by the Imperial Guard, who were generally tall, the perception of his small stature was consolidated.

Stereotypical attributes of Gillray’s Napoleon included a huge cocked hat with a tricolour plume, an a tricolour sash, a huge scabbard or immense spurs on Hessian boots. His oversized clothing makes mockery of him, too small for his worldly ambitions.


Unidentified / Unknown Artist