Images such as this were part of the substantial body of loyal, anti-French literature that circulated in Britain during the time of the Napoleonic wars, deploring the fate of European nations at the hands of the French conquerors. John Bull sits contentedly beneath the tree of liberty, surrounded by symbols of British agricultural and industrial prosperity. Three rampant lions (representing the nations of England, Ireland and Scotland) oppose the figure of Napoleon across the channel, their claws raised outwards as a symbol of defiance. Napoleon himself is shown as the devil incarnate: a half-man, half-monster figure who demonstrates ‘brutal and ferocious dispositions’. The people of France are depicted in a state of complete despair, in a land wracked by warfare, plunder and bondage.
The imperial aspirations of Napoleon during the early 19th century generated a solid loyal response, with many ordinary men called to arms in order to defend the nation from a possible French invasion.