Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Honoré Daumier (26 Φεβρουαρίου 1808)

Photograph:“At the Palais de Justice,” gouache on paper by Honoré Daumier; in the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris

“At the Palais de Justice,” gouache on paper by Honoré Daumier; in the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris

Ο Γάλλος καλλιτέχνης (καρικατουρίστας, ζωγράφος και γλύπτης) Honoré Daumier, που γεννήθηκε στις 26 Φεβρουαρίου του 1808 (και πέθανε το 1879), ήταν διάσημος για τα κινούμενα σχέδια και τα σχέδιά του που σατιρίζουν τη γαλλική κοινωνία, και τα έργα ζωγραφικής του που βοήθησαν στην εισαγωγή της ιμπρεσιονιστικής [Impressionist] τεχνικής στη σύγχρονη τέχνη.

Photograph:Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, oil on canvas by Honoré Daumier, c. 1865–70.

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, oil on canvas by Honoré Daumier, c. 1865–70.

Daumier's paintings were probably done for the most part fairly late in his career. Although he was accepted four times by the Salon, he never exhibited his paintings otherwise and they remained practically unknown up to the time of an exhibition held at Durand-Ruel's gallery in 1878, the year of his death. The paintings are in the main a documentation of contemporary life and manners with satirical overtones, although he also did a number featuring Don Quixote as a larger-than-life hero. His technique was remarkably broad and free. As a sculptor he specialized in caricature heads and figures, and these too are in a very spontaneous style. In particular he created the memorable figure of `Ratapoil' (meaning `skinned rat'), who embodied the sinister agents of the government of Louis-Philippe. A similar political type in his graphic art was `Robert Macaire', who personified the unscrupulous profiteer and swindler.

The Burden (The Laundress), c. 1850-53 (110 Kb); Oil on canvas, 130 x 98 cm (51 1/8 x 38 5/8 in); The Hermitage, St. Petersburg; No. 3K 1500. Formerly collection Gerstenberg/Scharf, Berlin

In the directness of his vision and the lack of sentimentality with which he depicts current social life Daumier belongs to the Realist school of which Courbet was the chief representative. As a caricaturist he stands head and shoulders above all others of the 19th-century. He had the gift of expressing the whole character of a man through physiognomy, and the essence of his satire lay in his power to interpret mental folly in terms of physical absurdity. Although he never made a commercial success of his art, he was appreciated by the discriminating and numbered among his friends and admirers Delacroix, Corot, Forain, and Baudelaire. Degas was among the artists who collected his works.

The Third-Class Carraige, 1863-65 (150 Kb); Oil on canvas, 65.4 x 90.2 cm (25 3/4 x 35 1/2 in); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Honore Daumier, was deeply interested in people, especially the underprivileged. In Third-Class Carriage he shows us, with great compassion, a group of people on a train journey. We are especially concerned with one family group, the young mother tenderly holding her small child, the weary grandmother lost in her own thoughts, and the young boy fast asleep. The painting is done with simple power and economy of line. The hands, for example, are reduced to mere outlines but beautifully drawn. The bodies are as solid as clay, their bulk indicated by stressing the essential and avoiding the nonessential. These are not portraits of particular people but of mankind.

The Print Collector, 1857-63 (40 Kb); Oil on panel; The Art Institute of Chicago

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