Honoré Daumier – The Human Comedy

2nd February – 28th April 2019

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) is regarded as the most humorous chronicler of modern mass society. With the point of his caricaturist quill he described the timeless human weaknesses - as relevant today as they were in the 19th century.

Already early on Daumier had been awarded the glorious distinction of the “Michelangelo of Caricature”. For over 40 years he published his caricatures in French satirical magazines “La Caricature” and “Le Charivari”. Thus, over decades the almost daily graphic interaction with political and cultural happenings resulted in a brilliant life’s work of gigantic proportions; 231 paintings, 826 hand drawings and almost 4,000 lithographs. Through this, Daumier became an artist’s artist, a painter and drawer whom the masters of the modern valued utterly. Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro and not least Pablo Picasso were great admirers and collectors of his work

Not only an outstanding artist, at one and the same time Daumier was a sharp-tongued critic of everyday French politics. He became the pithy commentator of the July monarchy of Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III’s Second Empire who came to the throne in 1848. Daumier himself was a convinced Republican and his thousands of works hold out for the freedom of thought and freedom of expression. He took a stand in political and social life and gave the outcry of the bourgeoisie a voice. The artist was forced to pay a price for his ideals early on: in 1832 he was found guilty of a lèse majesté, fined and compelled to serve several months in jail. He presented “citizen king” Louis Philippe in caricature as a monstrous, devouring, Gargantuan money bag.

Under the title “The Human Comedy” the Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso, Münster is for the first time presenting selected graphics by Daumier the museum received as a gift in September 2018 from Munich collectors Brigitte and Wolfgang Kames. Among them are scenes of social and political current affairs as well as prints from the popular series of “Bankers” and “Lawyers”, professions which Daumier had more regularly in his sights than any other. The conclusion of the exhibition’s course is formed by the “Ancient History” series of graphics in which Daumier fetched Greek gods and heroes from Olympia and brought them down to earth.


Honoré Daumier, Victor Hugo, aus der Serie "Les Représentants représentés", Nr. 13, in: Le Charivari, 20. Juli 1849, Lithografie, Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster
Honoré Daumier, Ein neu patentierter Regenschirm, aus der Serie "Emotions parisiennes", Nr 33, in: Le Charivari, 27. September 1840, Handkolorierte Lithografie, Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster
Honoré Daumier, Sie haben mich in Ihrem Plädoyer beleidigt, aus der Serie "Les Gens de justice", Nr. 9, in: Le Charivari, 2. Mai 1845, Handkolorierte Lithografie, Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster