Daumier, Honoré

Daumier, Honoré ônôrāˈ dōmyāˈ [key], 1808–79, French caricaturist, painter, and sculptor. Daumier was the greatest social satirist of his day. Son of a Marseilles glazier, he accompanied his family to Paris in 1816. There he studied under Lenoir and learned lithography. He soon began to contribute cartoons to the weekly Caricature. In 1832 his representation of Louis Philippe as Gargantua caused him six months' imprisonment. Two outstanding lithographs of 1834, Rue Transnonain and Le Ventre législatif [the legislative paunch] testify to his early direct and bitterly ironic approach. After the suppression of Caricature his work appeared in Charivari, where he mercilessly ridiculed the bourgeois society of his day in a highly realistic graphic style. Relished as cartoons in his time, Daumier's lithographs, of which he produced almost 4,000, are now considered masterpieces. He also painted about 200 small canvases of power and dramatic intensity that were stylistically similar to his lithographs. Among these are Christ and His Disciples (Rijksmus.); Republic (Louvre); Three Lawyers (Phillips Gall., Washington, D.C.); the romantic Don Quixote and The Third-Class Carriage (both: Metropolitan Mus.). Daumier's sculpture includes over 30 small, painted busts. An example of his work in this medium is a statuette in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. In his last years he suffered from increasing blindness. His financial condition was perilous. Corot put at his disposal a cottage in Valmondois, and it was there that Daumier died.

See his Teachers and Students (tr. 1970); catalogue raisonné ed. by K. E. Maison (2 vol., 1968); biography by R. Rey (1985); studies by K. E. Maison (1960), O. Larkin (1966), H. P. Vincent (1968), and J. L. Wasserman (1969).

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