Dropping the Pilot

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"Dropping the Pilot". Caricature by Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914), first published in the British magazine Punch, 29 March 1890.[1]

Dropping the Pilot is a political cartoon by Sir John Tenniel, first published in the British magazine Punch on 29 March 1890.[1] It depicts Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, as a maritime pilot, stepping off a ship (perhaps a reference to Plato's ship of state),[1] idly and unconcernedly watched by a young Wilhelm II, German Emperor. Bismarck had resigned as Chancellor at Wilhelm's demand just ten days earlier on 19 March,[2][3] as Bismarck's political views were too different from Wilhelm's.

After the cartoon's publication, Tenniel received a commission from The 5th Earl of Rosebery to create a copy to be sent to Bismarck himself. The former Chancellor reportedly replied, "It is indeed a fine one."[4]

The cartoon is well known in Germany and often used in history textbooks, under the title The Pilot Leaves the Ship (German: Der Lotse geht von Bord).[1]



  1. ^ a b c d "Dropping the Pilot (1890)". Wilhelmine Germany and the First World War (1890-1918). German History in Documents and Images (GHDI). Retrieved 1 March 2014.  "Here, we see a weary Bismarck descending the ladder of the “ship” Germany, which he had steered for almost 20 years as chancellor. A young Wilhelm II looks on from the deck."
  2. ^ The Times, London: Times Newspapers Ltd., March 19, 1890.
  3. ^ The New York Times, New York: The New York Times Company, March 19, 1890.
  4. ^ Engen, Rodney K. Sir John Tenniel: Alice's White Knight, Aldershot, Hants, England: Scolar Press, 1991, 140-142.
  5. ^ Low, David. "Dropping the Pilot". politicalcartoon.co.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ Bishop, Daniel. "Dropping the Pilot". Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  7. ^ Bell, Steve (10 November 2006). "Vice-president faces isolation after key ally leaves Pentagon". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  8. ^ Bell, Steve (1 July 2009). "Iraqis celebrate the withdrawal of American combat troops". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Bell, Steve (25 June 2014). "David Cameron's response to Coulson's guilt". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Bell, Steve. "Steve Bell on Damian Green's resignation – cartoon". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2017. 
  11. ^ Rowson, Martin (5 March 2012). "The Guardian Comment Cartoon". Steve Hilton's Exit. The Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  12. ^ Rowson, Martin (7 December 2014). "The Guardian Comment Cartoon". Alex Salmond standing in the 2015 general election. The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Rowson, Martin (14 February 2017). "The Guardian Comment Cartoon". The resignation of Michael Flynn. The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
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