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The Side-Show

Artist: Daumier, Honoré
(Marseille 1808 – 1879 Valmondois)

Date: 1864–1865
Medium: red and black chalk with grey wash on paper
Dimensions: 398 × 304 mm
Classification: drawing
Acquisition Credit: purchased, Hatvany Collection, 1950
Inventory Number: 1950-4276
Department: Prints and Drawings

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+Description

The Side-Show

The greatest caricaturist of the nineteenth century, Honoré Daumier was born into a poor family in Marseille, and all his life he felt a close bond with the outcasts of society. The political satires made for daily papers and anti-monarchist satirical rags, which made him famous, were often banned, then after King Louis Philippe reintroduced censorship the artist was condemned to jail. Daumier's interest was compulsively drawn towards everyday subjects. Though his mockery of the absurdities of his time was no less biting, he never lost his empathy. He published more than five thousand lithographs, in addition to making countless paintings and drawings, highly respected by collectors.
Daumier was constantly occupied by the world of the theatre and circus. At the edge of society, not only were these showfolk living by their own laws a favourite subject for art, but with time they became a symbol of artistic freedom. In the 1860s Daumier dedicated a whole series of drawings and graphics to acrobats, wrestlers, and clowns. Around 1864 he made a loosely connected series of drawings on circus criers, who with their stentorian voices and general hullaballoo invite the public to the show. This highly expressive sketch well illustrates Daumier's brilliant drawing skill. This composition, sketched with a relaxed but sure hand, shows the distorted face and grotesque posture of the figures, though their gestures have been repeatedly altered.

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