Daumier, Honor� (1808–79), was a French caricaturist,
painter, and sculptor. In his lifetime he was known chiefly as a political and
social satirist, but since his death recognition of his qualities as a painter
The Parisian public rightly admired Honor� Daumier as the newspaper
caricaturist who so perceptively skewered their daily lives, but they
never accepted him as a painter. Daumier died blind and a pauper without
ever having received a painting commission.
A glazier's son who moved to Paris at age eight, Daumier spent his time
after apprentice jobs copying works in the Louvre. When a museum official
persuaded his parents to allow him to become an artist, he began his
artistic training, mastering the new medium of lithography.
For his biting depictions of Emperor Louis-Philippe in the weekly journal
La Caricature in 1832, Daumier spent six months in prison and began
painting. After the state suppressed La Caricature in 1835, Daumier joined
Le Charivari and turned to social satire. He ridiculed the bourgeoisie
and the legal system and unsentimentally showed the misery of the masses
with his crayon, much as Charles Dickens observed London in words.
Daumier's paintings were made mostly between 1855 and 1870, when his work
for Le Charivari was slow and before he lost his sight. His nearly
four thousand lithographs, in addition to his paintings, drawings, watercolors,
and sculptures comprise the largest visual legacy of any artist before 1900.