Sunday, 26 March 2017

Nepotism Ahoy!


Pages for a new History of Political Cartooning in Denmark 



Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 13, Marts 31, 1866.
I.W. Heyman as an April's Fool, not being elected for the town council of Copenhagen.
The journalist advocating for him received his royal order the following year.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,
No. 12, March 24, 1866.
The journalist C.V. Rimestad on the
Sisyphean task of getting Heyman elected.
Last year Erik Petri and I dug out the tale of the satirical magazine Pjerrot accepting bribery from I.W. Heyman to refrain from drawing him with his new royal decoration.

Taking bribery and everyone soon knowing about it was the end of Pjerrot and a special tale in that we have but few of them in this country and we wanted to know more, all the wicked details, which the contemporaries gossiped about and never bothered to write down.

This week, however, when I was searching for something completely different, I found another story of the same kind and even worse: This time the payment went in the opposite direction.

There are many sordid details to that story, so I better begin in another place just to set the tone of the day before we shall be digging into the tale itself in the next blog post.



Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 64, May 21, 1852.


The decade and a half from the first Constitution in 1849 to 1865, when Heyman paid to remain unseen, saw two futile wars against Germany, neither of which should have been and both of which were only too typical of an atmosphere of fighting for power in a new societal system.

The scene above is mocking those who can only look on in silent protest, Pjerrot to the left, and Hr. Sørensen (i.e. the prototype of the Dane) at the time of the first - and successful (and long since dismissed) - reduction of the constitutional rights as shown in the headless puppet of the Constitution on the floor. The two outside the scene are made up of soft ineffectual lines, while the puppet and Reaction as bride are all about sharp bending to their knees. The frustration is ripe.


Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 43
October 27, 1866.

The average Danish citizen would then as now not necessarily be supporting the view of the satirical magazines printed in Copenhagen. Mr. Sørensen is seen with the severed head of the new king, which was how any Madam Svendsen of Morsø would see the "liberal Scandinavians" and their satirical magazines.

This is incidentally an instance in which the nightcap of Mr. Sørensen reveals itself as the offspring of the Phrygian cap of the French revolution.

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 49, February 14, 1852.
The voter is on the right, his local MP to the left.
Democracy was new and it was at once fragile, such as the changes made to the Constitution, as it was sound in the sense of being the subject of constant debate.

Even at the worst of arguing as to the left and below, this is democracy at its best, confronting the men of Parliament on their responsibility. As Nadia Khiari has put it from the Tunisian perspective: Everyone was talking, talking, talking. The word had been set free.

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 62, May 15, 1852.

The scene above adds perspective to the scene below. Drawn 13 years apart the upper one are about equal parties, especially considering women did not have the right to vote, while below the new king is emptying the pockets of Mr. Sørensen. The Prime Minister, C.C. Hall is fixating him.



Knud Gamborg, Pjerrot, 1865. Photo: Erik Petri.


The new king arrived by way of London as stated on his luggage. The London Treaty of 1852 had established him as the successor to the Danish throne when its predecessor remained childless. Christian IX was selected among a number of nephews of younger siblings, or one niece in particular as it turned out, who then turned over the honor of ruling the country to her husband. He grew up in Germany, or almost, or...


Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 21, May 26, 1866.
"A bright military person"
- the King muttering to himself in German,
unable to read the dispatches from his own daughter
written in Danish. He concludes, he shall have to ask his wife
(who was closer in line to the throne).
Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse, No. 51
December 17, 1864.
"My King! With permission to ask if my King
thinks and feels in Danish?"


With such an intricate dance as that, why not abolish the royal house altogether? It had an air of horse-trading to it, which seemed unworthy in a modern society, as became the constant theme of the political cartooning of the day.

For one thing royal houses bring a trail of nepotism with them. The obvious ones are but the least of the problem:


Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 64, May 21, 1852.
"- General Hans! What will you be doing today?
- General Julius - Nothing! And you?
- I shall assist you!"

Peter Klæstrup, Folkets Nisse,  No. 43, October 27, 1866.
Bismarck having been ill was once again top of his game,
containing smaller kingdoms.
The two younger brothers of the King, the Princes Hans and Julius, became the Danish faces of the obesity brought on by a royal house.

These two had served in the Prussian army, which just five minutes before had been fighting the Danes, cough..... bowing in reverence to these two, one might as well be bowing to Bismarck:

Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse,
No. 13, March 31, 1866.
Folkets Nisse, i.e. the Elf of the People,
illuminating the times with his lamp:
" - Look, Sørensen, the Princes Hans
and Julius are leaving Denmark!
- Really, where?
 - April's Fool!"


In the midst of all of this, the two monocled donkeys to the left below are what our story shall be about:


Peter Klæstrup for Folkets Nisse, No. 45, November 10, 1866.
A grand ball celebrating the wedding
of the King's daughter, Dagmar to the Russian Tsar.
The Russian officer on his left arm is eyeing the possibility of having Denmark for dessert.
Mr. Sørensen on his other arm is crying at the sight before him, pretending his tears are of joy.



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