Oct 112012

A quick follow-on from yesterday’s post to show a rather lovely commentary on obesity. The background is that Frederick I, King of Württemberg, married Charlotte, the Princess Royal (eldest  daughter of King George III) in 18th May 1797. It was his second marriage, since his first wife died in 1788.

The cartoon is by Richard Newton and shows the grotesquely large Frederick approaching his consort, while  a black slave supports his protruding belly. A carpenter has cut a hole in the dining table so that the King can reach his dinner, and makes the crude comment that he wonders “How the King will reach [the Queen], God only knows. Perhaps he has some German method…”

In fact the print hardly  exaggerates: the king was huge. Wikipedia has him as being at 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) tall  and weighing about 200 kg (440 lb). Frederick had been given the nick-name “The Great Belly-Gerent”. Napoleon apparently remarked that God had created the Prince to demonstrate the utmost extent to which the human skin could be stretched without bursting. In return, Frederick wondered how so much poison could fit in such a small head as Napoleon’s. Ouch!

Poor Charlotte…. the German Method may have worked but the resulting daughter was stillborn  (1798) and she was widowed in 1816. She died in 1828.





The King in full ceremonial garb.

  4 Responses to “Richard Newton and an obese monarch: more from a marvellous caricaturist”


    I don’t know for certain but wasn’t Frederick’s first wife the sister of Caroline Princes of Wales? She offended Catherine the Great committed adultery or in some way offended husband and Catherine so she was sent to a distant place where she starved to death. It is said that the Duke of Brunswock’s family didn’t know her fate for some years. Or do I have her confused with two other people.
    Though George III was noted fr his domestic life and one hopes happiness, he was reluctant to let his daughters marry. If the first wife was caroline’s sister than it was George III’s niece.
    How sad this satirist died so young.


      The story is a bit complicated. The King’s first wife was Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel – her mother was sister to George III. Yes, he fell out with Catherine the Great not least because he was considered an abomination because he “swung both ways” and was rather too fond of the male courtiers…. but he nevertheless sired four children by Augusta. She left him because of his violence towards her and apparently died in 1788 giving birth to an illegitimate child.
      Not a happy story – I cannot imagine that his second bride was exactly ecstatic about the union, and the horrors of the wedding night aren’t worth thinking about!


    I have a question: was Richard Newton ever convicted or penalized for insulting George III or did his publisher William Holland take the blame?


      I do not believe that Richard was ever charged in any way. On the contrary his employer seemed keen to get him to refrain from overtly political caricatures (presumably for fear of getting into more hot water). In many cases the subject and even the captions were suggested by Holland, who then left the young Newton to come up with the drawing. The insults to the monarch were mild compared to some of the lavatorial efforts by Gillray! Newton’s efforts were not deemed to be seditious or treasonous – perhaps reflecting the fact that it was considered better for people to laugh at a King rather than conspire to cut his head off!

 Leave a Reply