• Impressionist/Modern Day Sale  auction at Christies

    Sale 2313

    Impressionist/Modern Day Sale

    5 May 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 346

    Honore Daumier (1808-1879)


    Price Realised  


    Honore Daumier (1808-1879)
    numbered '14/20' (on the top of the base); inscribed with foundry mark '.Alexis.RUDIER. .Fondeur.PARIS.' (on the back of the base)
    bronze with black patina
    Height: 17½ in. (44.5 cm.)
    Conceived circa 1850-1851; this bronze version cast circa 1925-1952

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    Ratapoil was an imaginary character which Daumier invented to attack the politics of the government of Louis Napoléon. Ratapoil, which means "ratskin," represented Daumier's conception of an agent-provacateur, one of the leaders of the group of thugs known as the "Society of December 10" that Napoléon had hired to bribe and coerce votes on his behalf in 1848-1850. Daumier was a staunch Republican and he also denounced Napoléon's regime with pointedly satirical images of Ratapoil in print. During the period 1850-1851, when he was working on the clay statuette of the present bronze, Ratapoil's image appeared in about forty satirical prints that he published in Charivari. Unlike his character busts of identifiable individual supporters of Louis-Philippe, Ratapoil is not modeled on a specific figure. The moustache, goatee beard and beaked nose are features based on Napoléon III himself and would have been easily understood as ironical by his contemporaries. On viewing the finished work, Jules Michelet told Daumier, "You have struck at the enemy full force! Here is the Bonapartist idea pilloried by you forever!" (quoted in J.L. Wasserman, op. cit., p. 161).


    Henry Bing, Paris.
    Private collection (by descent from the above); sale, Christie's, London, 28 November 1989, lot 251.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    A. Alexandre, Honoré Daumier, L'homme et l'oeuvre, Paris, 1888, p. 297 (plaster version illustrated).
    M. Gobin, Daumier Sculpteur, Avec un catalogue raisonné et illustré de l'oeuvre sculpté, Geneva, 1952, p. 294, no. 61 (plaster version illustrated, pp. 295 and 297; another cast illustrated, pp. 298-299).
    J. Wasserman, Daumier Sculpture, A Critical and Comparative Study, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1969, p. 163, no. 37c (plaster versions and other casts illustrated, pp. 162-163 and 166).
    C.W. Millard, The Sculpture of Edgar Degas, Princeton, 1976, p. xi, no. 25 (another cast illustrated, p. 155).
    R. Passeron, Daumier, Témoin de son temps, Fribourg, 1979, p. 169, no. 100 (another cast illustrated).
    N. Penny, Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum, 1540 to the Present Day, Oxford, 1992, vol. II, p. 34, no. 274 (another cast illustrated, p. 35).