The work of Tom Onwhyn and published by Rock Brothers & Payne, the map’s most striking figure is the Russian Bear, seen lifting its bloody paw off the Crimean peninsula.
On its body appear the words ‘tyranny’, ‘oppression’, ‘treachery’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘ignorance’, while along its back a notice reads ‘Russian hide, wants more tanning’.
Its creator, said the cataloguer, “clearly thinks little of the treaty as he shows Britannia’s sword bound with red tape and her lion wearing an eye-patch.
“Other European countries fare little better. Italy is depicted as a mad dog in convulsions, being strangled by a collar labelled ‘popery’.
“Poland is depicted as a gravestone with ‘Defunct nationality’ engraved upon it and Austria is a double-headed ass. Prussia is an obeisant cur wearing the collar of the czar with the ‘Very Petty German states’ tied to its tail.”
This 19 x 24in (48 x 62cm) map, still in its soiled and frayed pictorial wrappers, and with a description key to verso of the now detached upper cover, appears to be a follow-up to Onwhyn’s ‘Map of the Seat of the War’ of 1854.
In a 2015 blog, map dealer Rod Barron, noted in a piece called ‘Clipping the Russian Bear’s Claws…” that as the war progressed and casualties mounted, public sentiment turned against treating the war as a subject for mirth and satire.
The Dominic Winter cataloguer wondered whether in the face of growing public opprobrium it was wise of the publishers to issue another such map.
Could that be the explanation for their failure to find any other copy of this map either at auction or in an institutional collection?