Saturday, May 12, 2007

Daumier Sculptures

Honore Daumier was a master of caricature. While moving across the country I stopped in Chicago for a couple days and was able to visit the Art Institute there. What a beautiful museum! Probably one of my favorites that I've ever been to. I found this tiny room tucked away in a corner, full of Daumier sculptures and a couple drawings. These sculptures are relatively rare, as they were used mostly for reference in drawings, not as final art pieces to be sold. I love the exagerration and rough quality of the bronze casts. I searched the gift shop for a book with these sculptures in them but I don't think they are anywhere in print. So enjoy them here!

Of course when he did a self-portrait he was a little more forgiving:

A couple sketches:


Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Nice stuff! Boy, Daumier was a scourge against bureaucracy!

Kristin said...

The sketches look highly reminiscent of the end-of-the-ride ghosts in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride. I wonder if this is where Disney got his inspiration!

Nancy said...

Howdy Bill,

You certainly can get some books on Daumier's maquettes. even lists the classic 1969 collection (the best) for a relatively low price if you look hard enough. I can send you the links.
The busts were never fired, and the bronze castings damaged some of them. They were cracking badly by the sixties but the editors kindly printed nineteenth century pictures as well as the current ones, in color. There are also biographies of the subjects and in two cases, hilarious comparisons of Daumier's subhuman caricatures with the Romantically romanticized features portrayed on heroic medals, etc. "Realite was probably somewhere between the two". If you go to France, don't miss the Musee D'Orsay. It has the originals and a full set of bronzes. Nothing else compares to looking at these amazing sculptures...they seem to practically breathe.
Apparently there was a vogue in France for caricature sculpture at that time; a British documentary on caricature (also still available but only on VHS) shows that Daumier was hired to do the sculptures because someone else had originated the concept.

Anonymous said...


Could you please post the link t the book? My daughter is fascinated with these sculptures and wants to learn more about them. Thanks!

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