Did Daumier die as a poor man? This question has often been asked and opinions vary between two extremes. To get an impression at some costs of everyday life in Daumier’s time we listed some prices on this website (Daumier’s biography > Cost of Living in Daumier’s Time ).
By coincidence, we now found a handwritten letter (presently in a private collection) addressed to a certain Mme Lobot in Paris. From this document it becomes clear that on December 16, 1862 Daumier had to sell some of his furniture.
The English translation reads as follows:
“My wife was mistaken on the price of the small piece of furniture. The last price is 15 francs instead of 12. The one made of rosewood is 18 francs. We will see you soon. Don’t forget to come for dinner on Sunday. h.Daumier”
We must assume that this letter may be a reference to Daumier’s poor financial situation at that stage of his life. As you might remember, Philipon had dismissed Daumier in February 1860 from the Charivari. A period of dire straits began which only improved around December 1863, after Philipon’s death, when Daumier started working again for the Charivari. Poverty was one of the frequently depicted topics in his oeuvre. To see our short video covering this theme in his work, we invite you to look at: DAUMIER ON POVERTY. A Story in Pictures on www.youtube.com/watch.