Friday, February 26, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Honoré Daumier

Daumier was born this day in 1808. A re-airing of my 2010 post about him and his work:

It might seem irrelevant to feature a 19th century caricaturist/satirist. What could satire of 19th century France have to offer to 21st century mortals? In the hands of Honoré Daumier it offers us a chance to see that nothing much has changed - fashions and technology - yes, they have changed, of course. Attitudes, politics - no change there! Daumier's cartoons satirised the corrupt regime, the injustice of the law courts, and the hypocrisy and greed at the heart of things. (Left: His lithograph titled (as translated)"Ungrateful country, you shall not have my work".

Today is the anniversary of Daumier's birthday. Born 26 February 1808 in Marseille, France; at age 8 moved to Paris with his parents. His father was a glazier, and didn't support his son's intense desire to become an artist, so young Daumier had to go to work in a bailiff's office. He later was able to study at the Académie Suisse and worked for a lithographer, which experience set him on the road to success. He quite obviously, as well as inborn artistic ability, had a natural flair for acute observation, a love of ordinary folk, a gift for seeing the comedic side of everyday life, hatred of political injustices - and war. It is considered that Daumier did as much as any artist of his time to raise the political and social awareness of the citizens of France.
"Throughout his forty-year career, Daumier created nearly 4,000 lithographs, first for the political journal La Caricature and later for the daily Parisian periodical Le Charivari. His early political images addressed the inequality and corruption of King Louis-Philippe’s July Monarchy. One drawing landed Daumier in jail for several months, indicative of the government’s repression of political caricature during much of his lifetime. After strict censorship laws were passed in September 1835, the artist shifted from political attack to social satire. His victims were the members of the French middle class, of which he was one. His images poked fun at pompous politicians, pretentious lawyers, picturesque individuals at the community baths, artists and writers in the throes of creativity, as well as urban development and the trials of commuting—all things that vex us to this day!" (Link.) [Link now defunct - sorry - probably was published in relation to an exhibition in 2010]

As well as the lithographs for which he is best-known Daumier painted around 200 canvases in oils, many depicting everyday life in France, as well as watercolors and small sculptures, all of which comprise, it is said, the largest visual legacy of any artist before 1900.

Daumier died blind and in poverty. Though the people of France enjoyed his caricatures, the elite of the artworld didn't recognise his talent until decades after his death.

Daumier had Pisces Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars and Pluto (birth time 3pm according to Astrotheme, but Moon in Pisces whatever time he was born). Jupiter in Aquarius and Venus in Capricorn. Personal planets and ascendant in Fixed signs, Aquarius, Leo and Scorpio, with Venus in common-sense Capricorn provided valuable balance to an overload of dreamy, artsy Pisces.

Saturn in Scorpio trines Mercury in Pisces and sextiles Venus in Capricorn. Venus semi-sextiles Jupiter in Aquarius and Jupiter semi-sextiles Mercury in Pisces - which means that a planetary loop linked an acutely perceptive Scorpio Saturn to communicative and humanitarian Pisces Mercury, arty but practical Capricorn Venus, and expansive, jocular Jupiter in mentally active, socially aware Aquarius.

Some examples of his work from Google Image:


GARGANTUA - This one, a depiction of King Louis-Philippe, led to a prison sentence for Daumier.







COMET (again!)



"Tiens peuple, tiens bon peuple, en veux-tu en voilà ! " (I think this means something like "Hang on good people - is this what you want? Here you are!")


mike said...

Daumier's "3rd Class" has some of the same qualities as van Gogh's "Potato Eaters". He was obviously talented. His work is more finished than many political-social satirists of that time.

I was interested in his "Comet" series. Surprisingly, there were a number of very visible comets during those years. Comet Donati (1858) was the brightest, but every year from 1855 through 1860 had the celestial visitors and caused some social panic.

"THE COMET OF 1857: (2) — Don't want none of your bill at all... the payment date's on the fifteenth of June and the world ends on the thirteenth!..."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, he had a more sophisticated, "arty" style than we're used to from today's cartoonists, and that of certain of his peers.

I like the comet cartoons too. Today's astrologers would have had a field day with those! :-)

Whereas Daumier's cartoons don't make me laugh, I do appreciate them. I have laughed out loud three times today though, just reading the article and all comments at Charles Pierce (of "Esquire") website, discussing last nights GOP "debate". Someone likened it to an old Python sketch:

I wonder how Daumier would have depicted it? ;-D

mike (again) said...

“I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all.” Abraham Lincoln

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ So true, so true!