Thursday, February 26, 2015


We could use a Daumier today

February 26, 1808. Honoré Daumier (February 26, 1808 - February 10, 1879) was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. In this image: "The Pleader", one of Daumier's most famous court scenes, lent anonymously to the Pennsylvania Museum of art and show for the first time in this country in the comprehensive exhibition of the artist's work at the Philadelphia Museum.

 A lithograph of Daumier's Gargantua (1831) . A litho of the greedy king, his ministers and the nouveau riche of 19th century France devouring everything in sight.

Sound familiar?

Long before Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh was sentenced to 25 lashings for drawing a parliament member in a soccer jersey, of the Saudi blogger who is currently under a death sentence of 1000 lashes,  19th-century caricaturist Honoré Daumier and his colleagues at the weekly Paris journal La Caricature endured prison sentences, fines, and litigation for their scathing portraits of king Louis-Philippe I of France, who came to power after the Revolution of 1830.

Back in 2012, the Cantor Arts Center presented a selection of Daumier’s cartoons attacking Louis-Philippe, the then king of France. The show’s most provocative prints represent the king as la poire, a bulbous pear. But the artists mercilessly lampooned everything about the July Monarchy, as Louis-Philippe’s reign was known—its ministers, their censorship of the press, their role in the inequalities of French society.

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