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"The dogs of war are loose in Europe"

"The dogs of war are loose in Europe"

This map was conspicuously absent from the blog post on First World War satirical maps which I wrote over a year ago. “Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark!” is a famous image, but I didn’t have an example in stock back then. I’ve finally found one and I plan to make up for my omission now, but if you are interested in how this map sits alongside others of this genre do read the earlier piece.

The map was published by G.W. Bacon in 1914 with a title drawn from the traditional (and subversive) rhyme. We don’t know the artist, but it was designed by Johnson, Riddle & Co, and supplied with a text liberally sprinkled with dog-related puns by Walter Emanuel. As map-dealer Roderick Barron has noted, Emanuel was a regular contributor to Punch but he was specifically known to contemporary readers for his anthropomorphic dog books illustrated by Cecil Aldin, includingThe Dogs of War (London: Bradbury, Agnew & Co, 1906). His association with this piece can hardly be chance. The belligerent powers at the centre of the map have been given appropriate canine form: a British bulldog, French poodle, German dachshund and - in reference to Austro-Hungary’s volatile ethnic fault line - an Austro-Hungarian mongrel. Britain is represented by a Churchillian sailor (Churchill was First Sea Lord and - only partially obscured by the whiskers of this humble Jack Tar - the features do resemble his; it may, however, be entirely coincidental: I may be influenced by the sub-Churchillian jowls of the British bulldog).

Here’s the very German dachshund, complete with pickelhaube and Kaiser Bill moustache, getting a bloody nose:

It’s not exactly visceral stuff, but look closely and there are other splashes of blood. The Austrian mongrel is being stung on the foreleg by the Serbian hornet, but his tail is already caught under the Russian steamroller, piloted by the Tsar himself and threatening to crush the Central Powers through sheer weight of numbers. The treatment of Turkey is particularly interesting. The Turk is one of the few human figures on the map (a failure of imagination on the part of the artist, or is the zoomorphic/anthropomorphic divide more pointed?) The Ottoman crescent is raised over Constantinople but the Imperial German tricolour flies from the battery protecting the Dardanelles and the battleships in the Black Sea. The artist acknowledges German military support for their Turkish ally, but the Turk is pulling the strings tied to the battleships and he controls the water gate which closes the Dardanelles to the British ships milling nearby. A foolish German lapdog of indeterminate breed, wearing a token fes, is tied to the Turk’s waist. The motif of battleships on strings is repeated by the British sailor on the other side of the map. We are invited to see them as iron dogs of war, straining to be unleashed, but it also gives them an unreal, toylike quality. This is a scrap between dogs and not to be taken too seriously. To quote from Emanuel’s text, as I have in the title of this post: “accidents will happen in the best regulated families”. Like other maps of this nature, it reflects the sentiments prevalent at the outbreak of war. UPDATE: March 1 2013. This afternoon I showed this map to a couple who came into the shop (looking for geological maps, initially …) and the first thing they said was “oh look, it’s Churchill”. The identity of the British sailor, top left, isn’t necessarily the most important feature of the map, but after thinking about it and discussing the map with friends I am even less convinced than I was a week ago that the widely accepted view - that it is a representation of Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty - is correct. I can see the popular appeal of presenting him as a humble rating, even adding some whiskers for effect, but the features are those of an older man. This could only be Churchill in 1940, not 1914. My money is on John Bull (who often does have whiskers and is generally presented as ruddy cheeked and in the prime of life).

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