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Hammer Daumier Collection

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ABOUT THE COLLECTION

The Armand Hammer Daumier and Contemporaries Collection is one of the most extensive collections of prints, drawings, paintings, and sculpture by the nineteenth-century French satirist Honoré Daumier. Also included are prints and drawings by many of Daumier's fellow nineteenth-century caricaturists. This collection provides a humorous window onto politics, culture, and day-to-day life in nineteenth-century France.

Honoré Daumier: A Finger on the Pulse

 

By Carolyn Peter

The life and career of Honoré Daumier (1808–79) spanned almost the entire nineteenth century. He was incredibly prolific, producing more than four thousand lithographs, one thousand wood engravings, several hundred drawings and paintings, and numerous sculptures. With humor and with humanism, his art addressed the twists and turns of the tumultuous French political scene as well as many other aspects of life in nineteenth-century France. Although focused on his own era, his images have a universality that allows them to cross cultural and temporal boundaries.

The Early Years
Daumier was born in Marseilles on February 26, 1808. When he was eight years old, his father moved the family to Paris, where the elder Daumier had relocated the year before to pursue a writing career. In 1820, at the age of twelve, Daumier went to work as an errand boy for a court bailiff. His exposure to the courts and to the literary arts had a great effect on him, and they became two of his most enduring artistic subjects. He began studying art in 1822 under his father’s friend Alexandre Lenoir (1761–1839), who was a painter and an archaeologist. The same year, Daumier enrolled at the Académie Suisse, but his formal art training did not last long. In 1825 he became an apprentice to the lithographer Zépherin Belliard.

Daumier entered the world of newspaper caricature as an artist in his own right in 1830. At the time, the political climate in France was going through significant changes. King Charles X was forced to step down, and King Louis-Philippe established a constitutional monarchy. The new king liberalized the press laws as he had promised, thus opening the door to more political caricature. Charles Philipon and Gabriel Aubert began publishing a weekly satiric journal entitled La Caricature at the end of this year. Daumier soon established strong ties with Philipon and the publishing house Maison Aubert. More

Carolyn Peter is director of the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University.

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