Ci-devant Occupations; or, Madame Talian and the Empress Josephine Dancing Naked before Barrass in the Winter of 1797. - A Fact!
Not on view
Gillray's genius for political savagery is evident in this satire, which purports to show Napoleon's first meeting with Josephine. According to slanderous gossip, the young general, who peeks through the curtains at the right, first laid eyes on his future wife as she danced naked for the comte de Barras. The latter was a leading politician who had made Josephine his mistress but then had grown tired of her. According to the text below the image, Barras offered Napoleon the leadership of an Egyptian campaign if he would take the lady as well. The artist's long-standing anti-French bias was sparked, in this instance, by the recent coronation of the imperial couple in a ceremony whose excesses were widely mocked in Britain.