Honoré Daumier was born in the port of Marseille February 26, 1808.
He moved with his parents to Paris in 1816 where his career as a political caricaturist started in 1830 when he joined the daily illustrated newspaper called La Caricature.
Contemporary commentators describe him as good natured and shy, most at ease smoking his pipe, rowing on the Seine, or drinking cheap wine and talking with friends.
La caricature was founded by Philipon and backed by Honoré de Balzac who wrote the original pamphlet and contributed under various pseudonyms over thirty articles for the paper.
|Daguerrotype of Honoré de Balzac by Nadar in 1842|
publishing stinging caricatures of the French King Louis-Philippe (1830-1848),
"King Louis Philippe"1839
by Franz Xaver Winterhalter - Oil
|The past the present and the future by Daumier|
getting fined in Court,
The caricature of King Louis Philippe as Gargantua sitting on the "throne", was the last stroke that broke the camel's back for King Louis Philippe,
|Gargantua, Honoré Daumier , 1831|
and in February 1932 Daumier, the owner of the publishing house, and the printer, were all brought to trial for arousing hatred and contempt of the king's government, and for offending the king's person. In the trial the argument was over whether "Gargantua" represented the king personally or if it was a symbolic representation of the king's swollen budget. All three of the men were convicted, Daumier was the only one who served a prison term (six months).
Undeterred, upon his release from jail, he joined Le Charivari, a reincarnation of La Caricature, and started to publish daily satire of the foibles of this world, starting with the King and a legislative branch fraught with corruption.
|Le Charivari magazine published 27 February 1834 on its cover the text of the judgement of a lawsuit against it in the form of a pear|
In 1835 after political caricatures were declared illegal, he turned to exposing the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie and the corruption of the legal profession.
|- There you go: you’ve got your private means, I’ve become a doctor, and he’s|
become a lion. – What’s that? – It’s a sort of animal. – Hush, he could hear us!
- Don’t worry, he has no teeth left: it’s an old lion.
|Ratapoil with his new toy|
|Honore Daumier: Bust of a Legislator, 1830s, Hirschorn Museum, Washington, D.C.|
He would contribute to the illustrated newspaper until 1863.
No one famous would escape his sharp pen as Victor Hugo found out after he spoke to the French parliament on 9 July 1849 to address the issue of "Eradicating Poverty".
« Détruire la misère »
Discours à l'Assemblée nationale législative, 9 juillet 1849
© Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée nationale - Photo Irène Andréani
|Victor Hugo in 1849 by Daumier|
A year later, Daumier had his picture taken by Lainé to celebrate the end of the reign of his nemesis, Louis-Philippe and the twenty or so lawsuits the King had filed against the newspaper over the years.
|Honoré Daumier in 1850. Source: Histoire des artistes vivants, français et étrangers, peintres, sculpteurs, architectes, graveurs, photographes : études d'après nature|
|New method for getting gracious poses...Daumier, 1856|
|"NADAR élevant la Photographie à la hauteur de l'Art" (NADAR elevating Photography to the Height of Art).
Lithograph by Daumier published in Le Boulevard, 1862.
|Portrait of Napoleon III (1808-1873) in 1855 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Museo Napoleonico, Rome|
|The first Pipe, Daumier, 1844|
|You insulted me!...You owe me an explanation, Daumier, 1844|
|Le vrai Fumeur. - The true smoker, |
Published in: Le Charivari, January 31, 1837.
|Fourth graders trying to be rethoricians, Daumier, 1846|
"Smoke. Son. Smoke. Only a pipe distinguishes man from beast." Daumier, 1847
|Barleycorn and burns - Honoré Daumier|
perhaps the very symbol of a life spent fighting the windmills of corruption and ignorance with pencil and brushes.