Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Man of the People, For the People

First, I'd like to thank all of you who took the time to comment on my new Greek series. You have truly inspired me to continue and I have completed two more from the energy of your complimentary responses.

Can't say why, but I am drawn to artists who create art in spite of the danger of doing so. Goya, Pisarro, and Luce (See Feb., 2010 archive) all paid a price. So did Daumier.

Honore Daumier (1808-1879)was a lithographer, caricaturist, sculptor and painter. The family's financial circumstances were lean. In order to help, young Daumier took a job as a delivery boy. In his spare time, he sketched from paintings at the Louvre.

When Daumier was age 22, he studied lithography and found work with small publishing houses. He became a very good satirical political cartoonist poking fun at the king and the upper class.
Eventually, his lithograph titled "Gargantua" of Louis-Phillipe, the reigning monarch, would lead to a 6-month stint in jail. Nevertheless, he continued to "voice" his displeasure with the French oligarchy.

Daumier is considered one of the most prolific artist of the 19th century. During his lifetime, he produced 4000 graphics, 300 paintings, 800 drawings, 1000 woodcuts and sculptures. He is most remembered for his lithograph titled, "Rue Transnonain, le 15 avril 1834" To fully appreciate what Daumier was portraying, it helps to have a little background.

During Louis-Phillipe's reign, there were anti-worker laws enacted such as those that prevent forming labor unions. The terrible working conditions that existed and the new laws generated resistance. During the resistance, a sniper shot a police officer and the police went on a rampage in the building where they thought the sniper was located.

The police shot everyone they could find in the building - even women and children. Daumier, who lived only 3 blocks from the building, was so upset that he created a large lithograph. A print seller placed one of the prints in his shop window.

When the authorities learned about the lithograph, all known prints were confiscated and the original lithographic stone was destroyed. Fortunately, some prints were successfully hidden away from the authorities.

Look carefully and closely at the print. Did you note the little child? What do you think about this famous print?


  1. Yes, I found the child. You know, I have seen that lithograph before but never realized how many people he had in the scene. It's a pitiful sight. Shows what happens when the full force of the ruling party is fearful. Wow. JO

  2. Sadly, we may just see this happen again in our lifetimes. How many times has history been repeated already? Thank goodness for the artists and their convictions to the arts and portrayals of the times. They can take everything away, except the creativity.

  3. AS always, worth reading and learning about. Daumier's lithograph didn't touch me until I saw the child in it, then my heart hurt. I, like you, appreciate courageous people who tell the truth in spite of risk. Mary S.

  4. It's always uplifting to read about someone who lives what he/she believes... and what an incredible artist he was. Connie