Saturday, July 19, 2008
Satirist Par Excellence
With all the discussion this week about satirical cartoons in the media (!!), it seems a good time to share a wonderful website devoted to the graphic work of Honoré Daumier, the brilliant satirist whose 200th birthday was celebrated earlier this year. Daumier's pen chided, lampooned, and highlighted the political and social events of his day; pictured here, for example is an 1864 image commenting on the state of Parisian public transportation (omnibuses were a favorite subject). On the Honoré Daumier website, you can not only read about Daumier's contributions and enjoy the work posted by the webmasters, but also click to enter the Daumier Register, where you can search virtually the entire Daumier graphic corpus and see images. It's a fantastic resource.
Vincent was a huge fan of Daumier's work, not surprising given his own left-leaning politics, sense of social populism, and his longstanding interest in graphic illustration. (Van Gogh actually intended first to become a graphic illustrator, not a painter!) Many times in his letters, Vincent mentions something he's seen or is working on and evokes Daumier. In writing to artist friend Émile Bernard about a portrait he did of postman Joseph Roulin, Vincent says happily, "What a motif to paint in the manner of Daumier, eh?" In addition to admiring Daumier's subject matter, Vincent admired his artistic style, able to get at the essence of a subject in minimal lines and strokes.