From 21 September 2019 to 12 January 2020, the Kröller-Müller Museum presents the exhibition Les Parisiens. Caricatures by Honoré Daumier.

Pointed observations

Bickering couples, militant feminists, swaggering lawyers or ill-mannered tourists: under the motto ‘il faut être de son temps’, Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) depicts his Parisian contemporaries in a forthright and humorous way. Over a period of some forty years, Daumier creates more than 4,000 lithographs in which he uses universal themes to comment on the political and social developments of his time. His pointed observations of his own era and environment make him one of the most important caricaturists of the nineteenth century.

Ban on political cartoons

As of 1832, Daumier’s lithographs are published almost daily in satirical newspapers such as La Caricature and Le Charivari. Daumier develops his skills as a caricaturist under the wing of Charles Philipon, draughtsman, journalist and founder of these newspapers. His first prints have mainly political implications and demonstrate his anti-monarchist position. When he depicts King Louis

Philippe as Gargantua – a giant on a throne who swallows up the people’s money – he, along with his printer and publisher, receives a fine and a six-month prison sentence. In 1835, political cartoons are banned in France and La Caricature is temporarily discontinued.

Well-to-do bourgeoisie

Because of the censorship, Daumier has to find different subjects. From then on, he takes aim at the behaviour of the well-to-do bourgeoisie. These caricatures are published in various series in Le Charivari, such as Les bons bourgeois, Les Parisiens or Les trains de plaisir.

Helene Kröller-Müller collected around 120 lithographs from series such as these. The poor-quality newspaper on which the pictures are printed makes them very fragile and for that reason they are seldom exhibited. Thirty lithographs have been selected for the exhibition, arranged by series.

Image: Honoré Daumier, Les trains de plaisir – 3 (The excursion trains – 3), 1852