Sunday, February 28, 2021

Daumier. Painter, lithographer, social critic.


Honoré-Victorin 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: Honore Daumier, Lunch in the Country, c. 1867 - 1868. Oil on panel, 26 x 34 cm. National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Photo © National Museum of Wales

Hia life and career (1808–79) spanned almost the entire nineteenth century. He was incredibly prolific, producing more than four thousand lithographs, one thousand wood engravings, several hundred drawings and paintings, and numerous sculptures. With humor and with humanism, his art addressed the twists and turns of the tumultuous French political scene as well as many other aspects of life in nineteenth-century France. Although focused on his own era, his images have a universality that allows them to cross cultural and temporal boundaries.

The Uprising

Daumier, Honoré: The Third-Class Carriage
The Third-Class Carriage, oil on canvas by Honoré Daumier, c. 1862–64; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

the Laundress

The Laundress
His life, devoted entirely to his work, was to be divided into two parts: from 1830 to 1847 he was a lithographer, cartoonist, and sculptor; and, beginning in 1848 and lasting until 1871, he was an Impressionist painter whose art was reflected in the lithographs he continued to produce. Constant work was not a burden to him; while producing 4,000 lithographs and 4,000 illustrative drawings, he sang sentimental songs whose foolishness made him laugh, and, “unconcerned with his works, he was always out drinking cheap wine with barge captains.”

Daumier's painting style echoes that of Francisco GoyaEugène Delacroix, and Théodore Géricault with its loose, expressive brushwork. Eschewing the controlled and polished surfaces of Neoclassical painting, he and other Romantic artists imbued their work with emotion - in many cases, high drama. Unlike most Romantic painters, however, his work is devoid of sentimentality but neither did he convey the kind of emotional distance of Realists like Courbet. Thus, recent day critics and art historians tend to regard his painting style as a sort of precursor to Expressionism

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