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Daily Art Moment: Honoré Daumier

When it comes to skewering politicians, Honoré Daumier is unmatched. The French caricaturist was born in Marseille in 1808 and moved to Paris in 1816. He was largely self-taught as an artist, making sketches at the Louvre and learning lithography while still a teenager. He developed into a brilliant draughtsman, capturing his subjects with a sure and energetic line in approximately 4,000 caricatures. His scathing cartoons, which were widely published in journals and newspapers, targeted the government of King Louis-Phillipe; Daumier’s work hit a bit too close to home for the King, who had the artist thrown in jail for six months in 1832. This lithograph, which was printed shortly after his imprisonment, depicts the thirty-five legislators who supported the monarchy. Daumier’s political opinions are evident in his depiction of the corpulent, corrupt, and smug politicians.

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

Honoré Daumier, (French, 1808–1879). Le Ventre législatif: Aspect des bancs ministériels de la chambre inprostituée de 1834 (The Legislative Belly: Aspects of the Prostituted Ministerial Benches of 1834), 1834. Lithograph on wove paper. Museum Purchase: Edwin Binney, 3rd, Fund, 81.76