Honoré Daumier: Radical in the Making

Honoré Daumier, Ecce Homo, c.1849-52 (Museum Folkwang, Essen/Photo © Museum Folk
Honoré Daumier, Ecce Homo, c.1849-52 (Museum Folkwang, Essen/Photo © Museum Folkwang, Essen)

A moving account of tribulations of Honoré Daumier, whose "most fertile years as a painter were the most disastrous of his outward career," published on the occasion of the exhibition Daumier: Visions of Paris, Royal Academy of Arts, London, on view from October 26, 2013 - January 26, 2014.

The article begins noting that Daumier "was already into his forties when his five-foot Ecce Homo – arguably his first fully characteristic oil painting – took shape around 1850. Today this image may seem to relate unproblematically to our experience of art, perhaps as a Rembrandt essentialised and ‘made modern’ ... it is evidently 
the work of a few intense hours, perhaps no more than two sessions. (In 1852, when Baudelaire and a friend were visiting, Daumier explained, ‘I start everything over again 25 times; in the end I do the lot in two days’.) ... To Daumier’s contemporaries such a painting must have appeared extraordinarily brutal and ‘primitive’."