Primary Source

Aristocratic Occupations

Aristocratic Occupations...

Annotation

The second image, a color drawing by the popular English caricaturist James Gillray in 1805 during the Empire, takes a different view of the Directory, suggesting that it is a time of moral decadence and self–aggrandizement. It depicts Paul Barras, while in power as a member of the five–man executive Directory in 1797, being entertained by the naked dancing of two wives of prominent men, the former Jacobin deputy Jean–Louis Tallien and Bonaparte. Madame Tallien appears beautiful, tall, and elegant, while Josephine de Beauharnais, Bonaparte’s future wife, appears small, thin, and with bad teeth. According to the text, Barras chose Madame Tallien (taking the man’s wife just as he usurped the man’s political power), while Bonaparte (seen watching from behind a curtain) eagerly accepted the less attractive woman so he could advance his political career.

Transcription

Title
Ci-devant Occupations; or, Madame Talian and the Empress Josephine Dancing Naked before Barrass in the Winter of 1797. - A Fact!

Caption
Barrass (then in Power) being tired of Josephine, promissed Buonaparte a promotion, on condition that he would take her off his hands; -- Barrass had, as usual, drank freely, & placed Buonaparte behind a Screen, while he amused himself with these two Ladies, who were then his humble dependents, -- Madame Talian is a beautiful Woman, tall & elegant; -- Josephine is smaller & thin, with bad Teeth, something like Cloves, -- it is needless to add that Buonaparte accepted the Promotion & the Lady, -- now, -- Empress of France!

Credits

http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/354228

How to Cite This Source

"Aristocratic Occupations," in World History Commons, https://worldhistorycommons.org/aristocratic-occupations [accessed November 25, 2021]