Honore Daumier Biography

Honore Daumier




Honoré Daumier was born in Marseille, France on February 20, 1808, to Cécile Philippe and Jean-Baptiste Daumier. Born to a working class family, his father was a glazier with poetic aspirations. The Daumier family moved to Paris in 1816 where a young Honoré showed a love of the arts; subsequently, his father tried (unsuccessfully) to stifle this by having him employed as an errand boy and, later, and apprentice bookseller. In 1822, finally giving in, he had Honoré apprenticed to his friend, artist Alexander Lenoir. The young Daumier entered the Academy Suisse, and the following year began learning lithography from Zepherin Belliard.

Though much of Daumier's lithographic work is obviously commentary on the events of 19th century France, it remains contemporarily and historically appropriate. His career as a press caricaturist came after the liberation of press laws by the new king, Louis-Philippe. The publishers of the satiric weekly journal, La Caricature, embraced Daumier's humorous and bitingly honest illustration. When these same publishers put up another publication, Le Charivari, Daumier's work would be its fixture for over forty years.

Daumier is one of the most prolific printmakers ever to work, creating over 4,000 lithographs and 1,000 wood engravings, which captured the follies of French daily life, including politics, satire, professions, institutions, etc. His lithographs of the legal profession, ‘Le Gens de Justice’ remain one of the most satirically humorous and insightful comments on the law. He also created over 500 paintings and was a prolific sculptor

After a long career, Daumier died at the home of his friend Camille Corot in Valmondois, in the Ile-de-France region of France on February 10, 1879.

An on-line catalogue of Daumier’s work can be found at: http://www.daumier-register.org/login.php?startpage