The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Honoré Victorin Daumier, 1808-1879

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1808.02.26
Place of Birth: Marseille
Date of Death: 1879.02.10
Place of Death: Valmondois


Honoré Victorin Daumier was a caricaturist, printmaker, painter and sculptor. He was the son of a Marseille glazier, frame-maker and picture restorer.


Daumier studied drawing with Alexandre Lenoir and at the Académie Suisse and then worked as assistant to the lithographer Béliard. He published his first plate in the satirical weekly La Silhouette in 1829, later becoming involved with the Republican papers, La Caricature and Le Charivari, in which he made pictorial attacks on the monarchy, resulting in a six months jail sentence in 1832-33. His political protest became even more marked in his subsequent lithographs for the Association mensuelle, e.g. Rue Transnonain, le 15 avril 1834. His images critiquing French society were compared to those of William Hogarth and Francisco de Goya by Charles Baudelaire in 1857 and by Jules Champfleury. In 1862-63 he produced a number of important illustrations for the radical Le Boulevard, including Nadar élevant la photographie à la hauteur de l'art.

Daumier was one of the first French artists to experiment with caricature sculpture. He was also a painter, but these were only critically recognised posthumously. Like his lithographs, they are notable for their energy and vigour. They are often unfinished and sketch-like in appearance.

Like JW, Daumier helped to raise the status of popular forms of art like lithography within the art world. JW's 'Pour boire' (M.189) was compared by Pressly to a caricature by Daumier in Le Prisme: encyclopédie morale du dix-neuvième siècle (1841). Other works by JW are also reminiscent of Daumier's lithographs, including Figure in bed (M.190) and Seated seamstress with male companion (M.288).


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Melot, Michel, 'Honoré Victorin Daumier', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, accessed 16 October 2002,; Larkin, O. W., Daumier: Man of his Time, Boston, 1966; Maison, K. E., Honoré Daumier: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, 2 vols, London, 1968; Vincent, H. P., Daumier and his World, Evanston, 1968; Pressly, Nancy D., 'Whistler in America: An Album of Early Drawings', Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 5, 1972, pp. 125-54; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night Whistler in Venice, Aldershot, 2001.