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Honoré Daumier

(1808 Marseilles – 1879 Valmonte)

“Gros, gras et...Constitutionnel”. Lithographie sur blanc. 33 x 24.5 cm. (1833). Delteil 176 II.

“Stout, fat and...loyal to the constitution” – Honoré Daumier’s derisive caricature portrays the French “citizen king” Louis Philippe, who had ruled the country since 1830, as a dozy, pot-bellied man and, thanks to a clever play on words in the caption, as the personification of the conservative newspaper Le Constitutionnel. The king, whose eyes are hidden from view by the peak of his nightcap, has been made drowsy by the wine and pie he has enjoyed. The sleepy image he thus creates must be seen as an allusion to both his own and the newspaper’s lack of far-sightedness.

The caricature first appeared on 19 November 1833 in the daily newspaper Le Charivari, which was founded by Charles Philipon in Paris in 1832 and continued to be published until 1937. Daumier had worked since November 1830 for Philipon’s weekly La Caricature, which was banned a few years later after the reintroduction of censorship. However, he remained loyal to Philipon and Le Charivari as a lithographer, producing as many as four thousand lithographs for the paper. As a republican caricaturist in the battle of “Philipon versus Philippe” (King Louis-Philippe I), Daumier played an active part in the struggle for press freedom, which had been restricted by parliament since 1832. The expression of his political views was not without consequences, however. In 1832 Daumier was sentenced to six months imprisonment in Sainte-Pélagie gaol in Paris for “incitement to hatred, contempt of the royal government and lèse-majesté” as manifested in two caricatures, one of which compared the king with the figure of Gargantua, an insatiable glutton and boozer in François Rabelais’ novel Gargantua and Pantagruel. The prison sentence was followed by compulsory detention in the psychiatric clinic run by Philippe Pinel, to which his publisher Charles Philipon had also been admitted.

A very fine, contrasting impression without the typographical text verso. Delteil: “on ne rencontre que très rarement des épreuves tirées hors-texte”.

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