Honoré Daumier

Biography of Honoré Daumier
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Honoré Daumier Biography

Honoré Daumier was born in Marseille, France, on February 26, 1808, and died in Valmondois on February 10, 1879. He was a prominent French caricaturist, painter, illustrator, engraver, draftsman, and sculptor. His style was highlighted mainly by the portrait of customs framed in social criticism, in which the faces carried much expressiveness.

Honoré grew up in the bosom of a family supported by his father, Jean-Baptiste Daumier, a traveling glassmaker who loved poetry and liked to try to compose his own verses. By 1814, when Honoré was barely seven years old, the Daumiers moved to Paris. The reasons for this trip would have to do with the attention they called the poems published by the father and his new position as a copyist in a court.

Regrettably, Jean-Baptiste Daumier lost his position and his writings did not have much impact. The fact that led Honoré to work despite being a kid, doing different jobs as a janitor of a court of justice, apprentice in a bookstore and errand boy, to make a living, while in his spare time was dedicated to learning painting and the drawing.

In the Louvre museum, he was going to draw, Honoré was interested in the paintings of Rubens, Rembrandt, Fragonard and especially Goya. His beginnings in art came with woodcuts and advertising illustrations. In 1828, he learned the technique of lithography and began his first works for small publishers.

Since 1830, lithography played an important role in the development of the caricature, which enhanced the satire in the media. In this same year, Honoré would be hired by the magazine La caricature, where he took fame for his drawings loaded with social criticism. One of his creations that led him to be imprisoned in 1832, was a drawing of King Louis Philippe I of Orleans as Gargantua, a giant glutton of the work of Francois Rabelais.

In 1834 the prohibition of any manifestation of trade unionism is decreed, and for 1835 the censorship in France is established.

Daumier avoided in these years to make cartoons of direct criticism, opting to devote himself to ridicule the customs and social norms of the time. After the French revolution of 1848, the laws of repression and censorship were abolished, leaving satire free again. Nevertheless, for this time Honoré fixed more his attention in the painting, taking a style very influenced by those works that he saw as a child in the Louvre museum.

Between 1841 and 1843, the magazine Le Charivari published a set of 50 lithographs by Honoré Daumier under the title of Histoire Ancienne. The images in the book updated classic themes such as the confrontation between tradition and modernity, in addition to describing the characters of the time through obscene connotations and political provocations. As Honoré lost her sight, he left the lithography to devote himself more to painting, executing a direct and slightly retouched line.

At some point between the years 1858 to 1860, he was dismissed from the magazine Le Charivari, because at that time the director of this considered his drawings very subversive. When the director died in 1863, he was reinstated again to the magazine, for which he published his last caricature in 1872. The fame of caricaturist eclipsed his paintings, which were very little known to the public, despite being exposed in art galleries.

Charles Baudelaire would be one of the few who would notice the talent possessed by Honoré Daumier, stating that there were only two people on par with Delacroix: one of them was Ingres, the other Daumier, cataloging him as one of the most important men for art modern.

His style for this moment had already matured: he used sculptures, plaster or bronze busts to use as models; masterfully plasma the pathetic with dark masses accompanied by a contrast between cold and warm colors, in addition to the good handling of chiaroscuro. Characteristics that influenced the development of expressionism in art. Among his most representative paintings are: The miller, his son and the donkey (1849), The washerwoman (1863), Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (1868), Painter in front of Notre Dame (1834), Chess players (1863), The wagon of third class (1864) and the imaginary patient (1879).

Around 1865, Honoré Daumier suffered financial difficulties, a fact that did not go unnoticed by his friends Geoffroy Dechaume and Camille Corot, who convinced him to accept a house in Valmondois that Corot had recently acquired as a gift. The gesture gave Honoré a few years of rest and tranquility.

In 1879, Honoré died and a year later his remains are exhumed for the transferred to the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, where he would be buried next to his friend Corot.

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