Bismarck, the iron chancellor

Bismarck, the iron chancellor

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Title: Here is that devil of MICMAK [...]

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Dimensions: Height 40.7 - Width 26.8

Technique and other indications: Woodcut printed in colors.Full title: Here is this devil of MICMAK cleaning the Asthmatic Confederation ... and come on! ... Vlin, Vlan !! Edited by Charles Pinot and Sagaire in Epinal.

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux website

Picture reference: 07-517320

Here is that devil of MICMAK [...]

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context


“Under the Second Empire, the Kladderadatsch[1] saw Napoleon III everywhere; Rightly or wrongly, we have the same disease with Bismarck. "(John Grand-Carteret)
In 1862, Otto von Bismarck was ambassador to Paris when he was predicted to have a poor career because he danced badly. Germany represents more than ever the enemy, the "barbarian". And, until his death in 1898, the figure of the old chancellor with his drooping mustache and spiked helmet would not change.

Image Analysis

The Iron Chancellor

From the moment he entered the political scene, cartoonists liked to describe the Prussian Chancellor as a mastiff, while Daumier presented him as a "Prussian Blue Beard" striving to "slay" the Houses of Parliament.
In Épinal, Charles Pinot, founder of the Nouvelle Imagerie d'Épinal and a skilful designer, devotes a few plates to Bismarck - some of which will be destroyed during the German occupation - and creates a real Germanophobic imagery, far removed from the naive or religious imaginers who constitute the business of the Spinalian productions. Pinot’s caricature exploits, enlarging them, all the attributes of the Prussian nation and its fierce representative: the enormous spiked helmet, symbol of the enemy; the drooping mustaches, distinctive sign of the character; the saber, which recalls the leitmotif of the Chancellor, resolved to establish the greatness of Prussia "by iron and blood". In his crisp uniform and shiny waxed boots, Bismarck looks like a lead figurine. The height of ridicule and irony, to eliminate the undesirables from the Germanic Confederation, he is "armed" with a huge broom and a giant shovel.


The image of Prussia

Now chancellor, Otto von Bismarck wants to ensure the hegemony of Prussia over a unified Germany. He therefore skilfully urges Austria to war to exclude her from the Germanic Confederation. Dismissed Vienna, Bismarck established in 1867 the Confederation of North Germany which brought together the northern German states under the authority of a federal government dominated by Prussia. In France, the expansionism of Prussia, seen as a threat of war, is already largely occupying the press. But after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) which pitted “the hereditary enemy” (France) against the “Barbarians” (the federated German states), French newspapers echoed patriotic and revengeful mentalities towards Prussia. The annexation by Bismarck of Alsace and Lorraine, without consulting its inhabitants, and the five billion gold francs paid by France as a war contribution, fuel this resentment. After the founding of the German Reich and the coronation of William I, the fear of the Prussian enemy became firmly established in French mentalities. In The Charivari of April 6, 1871, Daumier represents the German Emperor seated on Charlemagne's throne, wearing a "pointed crown" and brandishing a bone as a scepter.

  • Germany
  • Bismarck (Otto von)
  • germanophobia
  • Franco-German special issue


Lothar GALL, Bismarck, the white revolutionary, Paris, Fayard, 1984.Henri GEORGES, The beautiful story of the images of Épinal, Paris, Le Recherches-Midi, 1996. John GRAND-CARTERET,Bismarck in caricatures, Paris, Perrin, 1890.


1. Kladderadatsch: humorous and conservative journal (“patatras” in French) founded by Albert Hofman and David Kalisch

To cite this article

Emmanuelle GAILLARD, "Bismarck, the iron chancellor"

Video: Otto von Bismarck 18151898. German Unification