I am expanding this ‘cartoons referencing art’ theme further to include literary works. Today it is a cartoon by Martin Rowson referencing the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Monday 12th December 2016. The Guardian – Martin Rowson/ Percy Bysshe Shelley
A fair copy draft (c. 1817) of Shelley’s “Ozymandias” in the collection of Oxford’s Bodleian Library
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Percy Bysshe Shelley – first published in the 11th January 1818 issue of The Examiner, London.
The central theme of the poem is exploring the arrogance of leaders and contrasting the inevitable decline of all of them and of the empires they build with their pretensions to greatness.
Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum’s acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC. The sonnet paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue, given by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica, as “”King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works.” In the poem Diodorus becomes “a traveller from an antique land”
In Martin Rowson’s cartoon we can see that “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone, Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies” – obviously representing Prime Minister, Theresa May. The main story behind this is the exclusion of Nicky Morgan from a private meeting with the Prime Minister after she had made comments about the PM wearing a pair of £995 leather trousers for a photo shoot.
This was after an extraordinary text spat with Mrs May’s joint chief of staff Fiona Hill. Hill ripped up Morgan’s No 10 invitation after the MP publicly criticised the said trousers.
The clash came after Hill met Morgan and Tory pro-European Alistair Burt at No 10 and invited them to put their case to the PM this week. But after reading Morgan’s comments about May’s trousers, a furious Hill texted Burt: ‘Don’t bring that woman to Downing Street again.’
Morgan texted back: ‘If you don’t like something I have said or done, please tell me directly. No man brings me to any meeting. Your team invites me. If you don’t want my views in future meetings you need to tell them.’
Hill then texted to Morgan: ‘Well, he just did. So there!’ – believed to be a reference to Burt having taken her to the previous meeting.
Three days later, No 10 told Morgan formally her name had been axed from the list of MPs invited to see May;
One Tory MP said: ‘For Downing Street to ban Nicky from the meeting just because she made a mild remark about the PM’s trousers is appalling, absurd and will backfire.
‘Some people in No 10 are acting like a medieval monarch’s courtiers, not responsible civil servants in a modern democracy.
Another told The Guardian: ‘Disinviting Nicky because of a comment on the Prime Minister’s trousers is frankly playground politics.’
Mrs Morgan has been an outspoken critic of the Government after being sacked from her Cabinet position when Mrs May’s took over at Number 10.
The cartoon shows Nicky Morgan walking away flicking two fingers to May while, in reference to the Boris’ “proxy wars” controversy, the foot of the demolished statue is stamping down on him.
Mind you she is known for being a “Bloody difficult woman”. But is she, as some Tory critics think, getting too big for her kitten-heel boots?