Daumier Lithographs in the Dixon Collection

In 1987, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens received an extraordinary gift of 100 lithographs by Honoré Daumier from Dr. Armand Hammer and The Armand Hammer Foundation. Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) produced more than 3,000 lithographs between 1829 and 1863, a period of constant political and social upheaval in France. Beginning his career with notorious caricatures of political figures, he later turned to lampooning Parisian bourgeois life with a dry humor that is still funny today. Utilizing the increasingly popular lithographic printing process, journals such as La Caricature and Le Charivari were able to reproduce his works quickly and inexpensively. With his satiric cartoons regularly appearing in the papers, Daumier became a household name and established a great tradition of illustrative social commentary in France.            

I think of Daumier’s lithographs—literally cut from Parisian newspapers—as time capsules of everyday life in mid-nineteenth Paris. His illustrations are observant and sharp to the point heartbreaking—he zeroes in on the insecurities of the middle class as they struggle to give the impression of belonging to a higher social strata.  While they provide a glimpse of what life was like as a Parisian in the 1850s, I cannot help but also find parallels to today’s society. Our insecurities about appearances, perceptions, and relationships remain—always susceptible to a humbling spoof at the hands of a cartoonist or illustrator, and we have Daumier to thank for that. 

HONORÉ DAUMIER French (1808-1879) The World’s Fair, 1855 The Turnstile: New machine invented by an enemy of crinoline petticoats. Lithograph on newsprint Gift from Armand Hammer Foundation, 1987.66

Posted by Chantal Drake at 1:39 PM
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