French print-maker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor Honoré-Victorin Daumier was born in Marseille on February 26, 1808. In his youth, Daumier showed an irresistible inclination towards art as a profession, which his father vainly tried to avert by placing him first with a huissier, for whom he was employed as an errand boy, and later; with a bookseller. In 1822 Daumier became protégé to Alexandre Lenoir, a friend of Daumier’s father who was an artist and archaeologist. The following year Daumier entered the Académie Suisse. He also worked for a lithographer and publisher named Belliard, and made his first attempts at lithography, producing plates for music publishers; and illustrations for advertisements.
After the revolution of 1830, Daumier created art which expressed his political beliefs and therefore many of his works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. A prolific draughtsman, Daumier was best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behaviour of his countrymen, although posthumously the value of his painting has also been recognized.
Daumier is celebrated for a wide range of works, including a large number of paintings and drawings some of them depicting the life of Don Quixote; a theme that fascinated him for the last part of his life. Daumier produced over 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 1000 drawings, 500 paintings; and 100 sculptures.
- Dubbed the “Michelangelo of caricature“, he has a room-full of his caricatures in the Museum Am Römerholz in Winterthur. Daumier was almost blind by 1873 and living in a cottage at Valmondois. It was there that he died on February 10, 1879.
Today, Daumier’s works are found in many of the world’s leading art museums, including the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum.
- Daumier’s 200th birthday was celebrated in 2008 with a number of exhibitions of his work in Asia, America, Australia and Europe.
So, what do Two Drinkers and a Hypochondriac have in common?
They are two of the “Michelangelo of caricature,” Honore Daumier’s works
“Is It Art?”