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La Geografia politica al alcanç de totes les intelligencies – MAPA DE LA GUERRA EUROPEA

  • Author: PICAROL (Josep Costa Ferrer)
  • Publisher: Campana de Gràcia, Barcelona
  • Date: 1914
  • Dimensions: Magazine: 33.5 x 47cms / Map sheet: 67 x 47 cms


Rare early satirical map of the European War by Spanish artist Picarol for Catalonian magazine “Campana de Gràcia”, Aug 1914.

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La Geografia politica al alcanç de totes les intelligencies – MAPA DE LA GUERRA EUROPEA

[Political Geography based on all intelligence – A MAP OF THE EUROPEAN WAR]

The double-page centrefold spread of the complete August 8th 1914 edition (8 pp) of the Catalonian satirical magazine “Campana de Gràcia”.  Colour-printed map in black and white with light blue / grisaille background to seas. Traces of old folds. Some overall toning to paper, more pronounced along folds. Minor repairs & paper infilling mainly at central fold junctures. Verso reinforcement of entire sheet & verso printed text with transparent archival tissue for better preservation & presentation. The map accompanied by the other double-pages of this issue of the magazine, in similar, rather more extensively restored condition.

Fascinating and exceptionally rare Spanish satirical map of the Continent of Europe hitherto virtually unknown in either the carto-bibliographic literature of the satirical map genre and of the First World War period. This is only the second example of this map that we have come across during the past five years.

It appeared as a double-page centrefold spread in the little-known Catalonian satirical magazine, Campana de Gràcia, in its edition of 8th August 1914, just days after the outbreak of World War One. It is probably one of the very first such maps to be published after the outbreak of wartime hostilities. It presents the geo-political landscape of the Continent in a highly original & unusual zoomorphic & anthropomorphic fashion. Moreover the scope of the map is extended beyond Europe to include North Africa, Persia, India, China and Japan, emphasizing the fact that this latest war was a truly global conflict which extended far beyond the political boundaries of Europe.

The work appears to be by the hand of the well-known Spanish artist and caricaturist, Picarol (Josep Costa Ferrer) [1876 – 1971] whose signature motif (a dangling bell (?)) appears in the lower left corner. Born on the Balearic Island of Ibiza in 1876, Picarol followed an artistic career from an early age, studying at the School of Fine Arts in Palma de Mallorca, before moving to Barcelona to study architecture. His love of drawing and particularly of caricature, led to him abandoning the latter career to pursue a course as an independent artist, caricaturist and cartoonist. His first such work had appeared in the satirical magazine, La Tomasa, in 1887, when just aged 11. He worked for numerous satirical magazines in Catalonia and across Spain and joined with several like-minded artists, including the young Picasso, to form “La Cueva Artistica”. His first significant caricatures appeared from about 1903 onwards. As well as being a cartoonist Picarol was a keen archaeologist and even established an American antiques business in Chicago in 1927. In 1929 he abandoned Barcelona and settled in Palma de Mallorca, where he held regular exhibitions in his Galerias Costa and promoted new artists from all around the world. In 1929 he published one of the first modern tourist guides to Mallorca and Palma (La Guia Grafica Costa) and another of Ibiza in 1936.

Returning to this rare & fascinating map, Russia is represented as a menacing bearded giant, her Polish and Muscovite heavy guns trained westwards towards Germany and Austria. His left hand reaches to grasp the wing of the crowned Imperial Austrian eagle. To the North, East Prussia is a troubled face, his mop of hair inscribed with the words “Estan que (h)arden” (It’s hot) this being the area where the first significant hostilities of the war took place. Further to the North, a Finnish bear stands astride the Baltic, one paw on St.Petersburg, perhaps symbolic of the cultural and political “Russification” of Finland in the pre-war period. On the Russian giant’s right, a portly armed cossack protects the volatile Caucausus region.  To the South, Turkey is represented by a  crouched figure wearing a fez, back to the Bosphorus, sitting face to face with an inquisitive snail, its shell surmounted by the Turkish crescent. To the East, Persia and India sit beneath the heavy feet of an imposing Japanese soldier holding aloft a fishing net, which contains his latest catch of Pacific and South East Asia colonial fishes: the Caroline Islands, Guinea, the Marianas, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands. Sheltering beneath the Japanese soldier, a traditional Chinese mandarin proclaims: “Peoples of Europe defend your most sacred possessions!!”. In the Balkans, Rumania is a wily fox; Bulgaria a malevolent spider with designs of Andrianopolis, one of its rear legs now encircling the city; Greece is an ancient statue; Montenegro and Albania a diminutive pair of monarchs, their northern neighbour Serbia caught in the claws of the Austrian Eagle. Italy is a uniformed bersaglieri, back turned on the conflict, sitting atop the Italian boot and holding a sign reading: No me enredo (I’ll not get entangled). In central Italy, the Papacy is represented by a small bee wearing the traditional papal tiara. France and Germany stand eye to eye, the former a goggle-eyed infantry soldier, the latter a squat porcine figure bearing the facial features of an elderly Bismarck, a small piglet on his back. In his left hand, the Frenchman holds a heart-shaped love-token which he waves hopelessly in front of the stern-faced German. To the North, the traditional figure of John Bull represents the British Isles, backed by the armed dreadnought bristling with heavy guns that represents Ireland. Reminiscent of Fred Rose’s 1899 map, Angling in Troubled Waters, John Bull holds a fishing rod, whose line extends between the eye-to-eye Franco-German confrontation and dangles enticingly in the waters of the Western Mediterranean.

The islands of the Western Mediterranean are an assortment of playful fish; Sicily is a powder keg; Crete a peacock and Cyprus, a herald’s staff or caduceus, symbol of the ancient Greek god Mercury.

In the Iberian peninsula, Spain, though still a neutral, is represented by the figure of her balding moustachio-ed Premier, Eduardo Dato [1856-1921], seated on the back of a roaring lion, one of its rear feet bandaged and transfixed by a British flag (Gibraltar). Her neighbour Portugal is a small girl, always a traditional ally of Britain (hence the British flag she holds), but here sheltering anxiously behind the back of the Spanish Premier & his ferocious lion.

In North Africa, the French colonies of Marocco, Algeria and Tunisia are represented by the figure of a lounging tiger, threateningly baring its teeth. In the Scandinavian regions, Norway – named Tierra del Bacalao (Land of Cod) unsurprisingly takes the guise of a giant cod and sundry other fish, the former carried over the back of the neighbour Sweden, here represented by the distinctive bearded figure of the Swedish Prime Minister, Hjalmar Hammarskjöld [1862-1953], who holds a supper fork at the ready in his right hand!

Overlooking the whole scene on the left is the shrouded skeletal figure of the Grim Reaper, scythe in hand and upon whose curving blade sit a pair of symbolic crows. Below flies a now scrawny featherless dove of Peace, an olive branch still clasped tightly in its beak.

“What an August. It prepares us!” (!! Que Agosto. Se nos prepara!!) exclaims the Grim Reaper.  “What an August!” (!!Que Agosto!!),  “What an August!” (!!Vaya un Agosto!!) squawk the two adjacent crows. There is a clever double-entendre here, as idiomatically, the phrase also means “What a profit is being prepared” – very appropriate from the lips of the Grim Reaper, given the massive human cost that would result from the ensuing four years of hostilities across Europe and beyond.