23 December 2013, Internet release

Exhibition of life and manners in France as seen by Honore Daumier opens in Moscow

Moscow’s Folk Graphics Museum presents work by one of the most outstanding French artists of the 19th century. Honore Daumier (1808-1879) occupies an important place in the 19th -century French art. His brilliant caricatures, admired by his acclaimed contemporaries, won him international fame. He was a pioneer of political cartoon.

Daumier was born in Marseille. In 1816, the family moved to Paris, living a very modest life. Daumier had no opportunity to go to an art school – episodic classes in some art studio or other were all the family could afford. He managed to master lithography though. At 20, he began drawing caricatures for a satirical magazine. One particularly bold caricature of the king even cost him six months in jail.

A virtuoso draftsman, Daumier cared little about censorship or other restrictions as he waged his pictorial campaign, ridiculing the corrupt world of bourgeoisie.

Despite being widely popular, he was unpretentious and impractical in everyday life and completely inapt in money matters. No wonder, he never got rich.

Once Daubigny recommended Daumier to a wealthy American collector. He warned his friend to put on his best clothes and ask for no less than 5,000 francs for his work. The price suited the American and he wished to see other drawings. Daumier showed him one – more significant than the former – but with no instructions from Daubigny as to that particular work of his, Daumier set a modest price of just 600 francs which was reason enough for the collector to reject it. Hereafter, he totally ignored the artist selling his work for so cheap.

Daumier’s prolific legacy comprises over 4,000 lithographs, about 1,000 engravings and more than 500 paintings and watercolors. Though modern viewers may find it difficult to grasp the meaning of some of Daumier’s works unless they know the historical context, they will still be able to enjoy their great artistic merits.

Daumier’s lithographs will be on display at the Folk Graphics Museum through mid-January 2014.

Armen Apresyan