Honoré Daumier

Honoré Daumier

Style: Realism

Lived: February 26, 1808 - February 10, 1879 (19th century)

Nationality: France

Honoré Daumier was born in Marseille on February 26, 1808. He showed in his youth an irresistible leaning towards the artistic profession, which his father attempted to control by placing him first with a huissier and subsequently with a bookseller.

Having mastered the techniques of lithography, Daumier started his artistic career by producing plates for music publishers, and illustrations for advertisements; followed by anonymous work for publishers.

When, during the reign of Louis Philippe, Charles Philipon launched the comic journal, La Caricature, Daumier joined its staff. He started upon his pictorial campaign of scathing satire upon the foibles of the bourgeoisie, the corruption of the law and the incompetence of a blundering government. His caricature of the king as Gargantua led to Daumier's imprisonment for six months in 1832. Soon after, the publication of La Caricature was discontinued, but Philipon provided a new field for Daumier's activity when he founded the Le Charivari.

Daumier produced his social caricatures for Le Charivari, in which he holds bourgeois society up to ridicule in the figure of Robert Macaire, hero of a popular melodrama.

In spite of his prodigious activity in the field of caricature — the list of Daumier's lithographed plates numbers no fewer than 3,958 — he also painted. But as a painter, Daumier, one of the pioneers of naturalism, did not meet with success until a year before his death in 1878, when M. Durand Ruel collected his works for exhibition at his galleries and demonstrated the range of the talent of the man who has been called the "Michelangelo of caricature". At the time of the exhibition, Daumier was blind and living in a cottage at Valmondois, which Corot placed at his disposal. It was there that he died on February 10, 1879.

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