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Mappa Humoristico da Europa

  • Author: SOARES, A
  • Publisher: A Editora Lda, Lisbon
  • Date: c1914-1916?
  • Dimensions: sheet: 53.5 x 36.5 cms / map: 47.5 x 31.5 cms


Portuguese zoomorphic map depicting the nations of First World War Europe as a bizarre menagerie of wild animals, Lisbon c1914/16

About this piece:

Mappa Humoristico da Europa

Lithographic map with fresh printed colours on relatively thin paper. Traces of old folds with pinhole weaknesses at old fold junctures centre left & right, expertly and invisibly reinforced and strengthened on verso. Wide margins. Short repaired tear in left margin at sheet edge. A couple of very light brown stains to left and right of image, but otherwise an attractive and nicely preserved example.

This is, without doubt, one of the strangest and most curious of zoomorphic satirical maps produced in the First World War, this “humorous map of Europe” was designed by the Portuguese artist, A Soares, and published as a separate broadsheet in Lisbon by “A Editora Lda”. The date of publication is unclear though it may perhaps have been issued in early 1916, following Portugal’s entry into the War on the side of the Allied Powers.

The map depicts the combatant and neutral nations of Europe as a menagerie of curious & exotic animals, bearing little relationship to traditional zoomorphic caricatures & oft-recycled satirical stereotypes supposedly reflecting the “national character” of respective European countries.

Spain, France and Russia are perhaps the most readily identifiable as Bull, Lion and Bear respectively, though the Russian bear is here of the Polar variety. Characterized by aggression & cunning, the Central Powers appear as the German Tiger & Austro-Hungarian Wolf, both under sustained & bloody attack from surrounding foes. Belgium is a docile stag, its hind quarters being voraciously consumed by the German Tiger. Holland is a docile cow, Denmark an equally quiet goat, and Norway & Sweden a cosy pair of beady-eyed badgers. Britain is a powerful leopard, springing across the Channel.  Switzerland is a docile lamb, Italy & Romania potentially dangerous coiled snakes, Montenegro a wild cat, Albania a white rabbit, Greece a turtle, Bulgaria a jackal, Turkey a crocodile and perhaps, most curious of all, Serbia an aggressive kangaroo. Last but not least, Portugal is depicted in canine form, most probably a large Portuguese Podengo or hunting dog.

It is sadly now almost a forgotten fact that Portugal was one of Britain & France’s First World War Allies and that her troops saw fierce action on the Western Front. After an initial period of neutrality, she finally entered the war in March 1916, in the wake of growing tensions with Germany, particularly in relation to her African colonies. She subsequently sent two Divisions of troops (CEP) & a Corps of Heavy Artillery (CAPI) to France in Feb 1917. Her 60,000 troops were poorly reinforced & sustained very heavy casualties during the German 1918 Spring Offensive, particularly at the Battle of La Lys (Estaires) in April 1918.

Another example of this map (from our inventory) features in the British Library’s current Exhibition, Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line (Nov 2016-March 2017).