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Published on 23 July 1814
On the evening of 1 August 1814, grand festivities took place in London’s Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park, to celebrate both the defeat of Napoleon and the centenary of the House of Hanover as reigning dynasty. Central to these celebrations was a naumachia – that is, a re-enactment of a naval battle – on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Barges brought from the Royal Navy’s dockyard at Woolwich were used to represent the Battle of the Nile of 1798, in which the British fleet under Horatio Nelson had defeated Napoleon’s forces. In the present caricature, published it would seem over a week before the event took place, Napoleon is shown being blasted into the sky on a rocket. The actual event was recorded and disseminated through a series of engravings issued by Edward Orme in the souvenir publication, A Historical Memento. However, the press was less enthusiastic in its response.