April 1, 2013, NYU Internet release


Pears, Pastimes, and People. Caricatures by Daumier and his contemporaries. La Maison Française, New York University

April 12 – May 31, 2013

La Maison Française of New York University is pleased to present “Pears, Pastimes, and People: Caricatures by Daumier and His Contemporaries,” a survey of French lithographic production in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The twenty-six prints exhibited, many of them hand-colored, explore a range of themes ranging from political caricature to the popular practice of satirizing social “types,” including the revolutionary war imposter and the avaricious, heartless landlord.

The production of cheap and plentiful prints was made possible by the invention of lithography around 1800. The periodicals La Silhouette (1829-1830), La Caricature (1830-1835), and Le Charivari (1832-1937), founded by artist, writer, and entrepreneur Charles Philipon, exploited its potential for social and political commentary, despite varying degrees of censorship imposed by the reigns of King Charles X (1824-1830) and King Louis-Philippe (1830-1848). The ebb and flow of political material thus provides an analogue to the relative political suppression of the day.

Honoré Daumier, undoubtedly the best-known French caricaturist today, is represented by three works in the exhibition, including the deliciously elliptical Fac Quasi-simile (1835), in which captions describe the content of political vignettes, which, considered too explosive for publication, have been replaced with the visual equivalent of a non sequitur. The exhibition also presents the work of over a dozen of Daumier’s overlooked, but equally trenchant compatriots, including lithographs by Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet, Gavarni, and Jean-Edmé Pigal.

“Pears, Pastimes, and People” was curated by Patricia Mainardi, Christina Lau, and the students of Professor Mainardi ’s New York University Romanticism seminar. La Maison Française is open to the public Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A digital catalogue will be available beginning 4/12 for free download; visit www.nyu.edu/maisonfrancaise for details. Please contact Christina Lau at (212) 998-8752 or for more information.

This exhibition is presented with the support of the NYU Department of Art History, the Dean for Humanities, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science, and the Department of French.