Artwork Detail

Le dessinateur (The Artist)
French, 1808–1879
Oil on panel
10 1/8 x 13 1/8 "
University purchase, Parsons Fund, 1962
WU 3961
Honoré Daumier is best known for his lithographic illustrations in which he sharply satirized politicians and the Parisian bourgeoisie alike, and which circulated widely in the French press from around 1830 to 1870. In contrast to his prolific output as an illustrator, Daumier created only a few hundred paintings, largely figures drawn from contemporary life in Paris. These were rarely shown during his lifetime and were collected primarily by friends and fellow artists. Le dessinateur is one of several dozen of his paintings that explore the theme of the artist and the amateur (lover of art); it shows an artist intently putting pen or brush to paper as a younger man leans in to view him at work. Through the painting’s small scale, dim lighting, and close-up view, Daumier creates an intimate mood. With artworks in the background suggesting an artist’s studio and the sitters unidentified, this scene suggests a universalizing representation of a master and his pupil or admirer, of knowledge passed between generations. [Permanent collection label, 2016]