The Drawings of Honoré Daumier

The master of French caricature in the Museum of Fine Arts.

Gonda Zsuzsa

It is the 5th time that the Museum of Fine Arts presents a selection from the paper works of French artist, Honoré Daumier (1808–1879). The Graphic Collection of the museum preserves almost 150 woodcuts made by Daumier. The works were collected mostly up to 1914, during an era when the most influential European art dealers were contacted by the museum.

The show presents the way how the purchases were focused on the main works and those of special or unique features. The most interesting part of the exhibition is the collection of political caricatures of the July Monarchy: the prints of the portraits of politicians printed in La Caricature, made especially for collectors; or the Rue Transnonain, the dramatic representation of the killing of innocent people.

The social satire is represented by the complete series of the „Bathers” and the „Good Citizens”. According to chronology the exhibition is ended by the lithographs made for the journal Le Boulevard in 1862. The Daumier collection was completed after World War I by paper clippings from several periodicals. Following the first Hungarian show the next 3 ones (1929, 1953, 1979.) took into account these acquisitions also, thus giving a more detailed picture of the artist.

The Museum of Fine Arts is the proud proprietor of four Daumier drawings as well. In 1935 Pál Majovszky’s rich collection of 19th century drawings was gained by the museum, in which 3 works represent the artist: the Archimedes, made around 1850, and 2 pen sketch studies from the 1860s and 1870s. The Circus Criers, made around 1864-65, originates from the Hatvany Collection and is one of the most outstanding pieces of the series dedicated to the world of show-people.

The dramatic drawing presenting the murder of Archimedes is a unique piece both thematically and technically. Originally it was owned by the editor of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts and at the auction of the collection in 1914 was titled Revolt Although Daumier did not go back to the original theme, in 1857 he reanimated the figure of Archimedes. In 3 of his caricatures published in Le Charivari the old Greek physicist is l ooking at the endeavor of the British, who created Leviathan, the biggest ship in the world but could not cope with the problems of originating from the dead-load of the vessel. In the funniest page Archimedes can be seen in the Champs-Elysé with a laurel wreath on his head, leaning on a pair of compasses, listening to the English engineer who is desperately trying to ask for his help.

The Way We Are / Honore Daumier (1808-1879)

The master of French caricature

12 October 2012 – 3 March 2013

Magyar Muzeumok, March 11, 2013