Honoré Daumier (Marseille 1808-1879 Valmondois)
Honoré Daumier (Marseille 1808-1879 Valmondois)

Le Lutrin ('The Lectern')

Honoré Daumier (Marseille 1808-1879 Valmondois)
Le Lutrin ('The Lectern')
signed ‘h. Daumier’ (upper right)
oil on panel
7 5/8 x 8 5/8 in. (16.7 x 21.7 cm.)
Painted in 1864-1865
Dr. A. Thévenot (by 1878).
Jules Cronier, Paris; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 11 March 1908, lot 27.
Otto Gerstenberg, Berlin (by 1923).
Margarethe Scharf, Berlin (by descent from the above).
Dieter Scharf, Berlin (by descent from the above).
De Pury & Luxembourg, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, July 1998.
A. Alexandre, Honoré Daumier, L’Homme et l’oeuvre, Paris, 1888, p. 374.
E. Klossowski, Honoré Daumier, Munich, 1923, p. 117, no. 337 (titled Les Chantres au lutrin).
A. Fontainas, La peinture de Daumier, Paris, 1923 (illustrated, pl. 27; titled Les Chantres au lutrin).
E. Fuchs, Der Maler Daumier, Munich, 1927, p. 47, no. 35a (illustrated, p. 35; titled Les chanteurs au lutrin).
K.E. Maison, Honoré Daumier, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, New York, 1968, vol. I, p. 144, no. I-169 (illustrated, pl. 81).
L. Barzini and G. Mandel, L’Opera pittorica completa di Daumier, Milan, 1971, p. 108, no. 228 (illustrated; titled Quattro musicanti attorno a un leggio).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Peintures et dessins de H. Daumier, 1878, no. 1.
Paris, Palais de l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Daumier, May 1901, p. 19, no. 63.
Berlin, Galerie Matthiesen, Honoré Daumier, Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Plastik, February-March 1926, no. 26.
Ingelheim am Rhein, Villa Schneider, Honoré Daumier, Peintures, dessins, lithographies, sculptures, April-May 1971, no. 11.
Berlin, Stiftung Brandenburger Tor, Max Liebermann Haus, "Daumier ist ungeheuer!,” Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Graphik, Bronzen von Honoré Daumier, March-June 2013, pp. 132-133, no. 4.13.

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Lot Essay

It was perhaps with Daumier as an exemplary precedent in mind that Charles Baudelaire exhorted artists of his day to direct their efforts away from Salon-oriented priorities such as history painting, and turn instead to the manners, morals and dress of society in their own time. Daumier had been doing precisely this since the early 1830s, but the passing parade of fashionable finery on Baron Haussmann’s recently built boulevards held little interest for him. He instead preferred, in his fervent liberal bent, to probe the underbelly of contemporary French society ever more deeply.

Le Lutrin ('The Lectern') bears the hallmarks of Daumier’s distinct style. Here we observe his favored low perspective and deliberate cropping of a composition which expands loosely beyond the bounds of the canvas. His subjects’ faces are slightly deformed by the absorption in their music.

Daumier died in 1879, blind and impoverished, having earned little income from his art, and never having received a commission as a painter. His living conditions and status at the end of his life were doubtless a result of his courting of les classes ouvrières causes, his commitment to satire, political caricature and mocking the bourgeois. Appreciation of Daumier as a painter has chiefly developed posthumously – he is now recognized as among the first and most important of the realist painters.

Henri Loyrette sums up the artistic insurgency Daumier's work let loose when he wrote, 'It was Daumier’s artistic fate to be a painter of the few. He did not enjoy the same attentive devotion or respectful reverence that quickly surrounded Ingres, Delacroix and Corot. But despite his marginal position and status as a 'curiosity', he established a line of descent that connects certain artists just as effectively as the Ingres lineage. Manet, Degas, Lautrec, Cézanne, Rouault and Picasso all owed Daumier a debt'. He continues, 'And Daumier is still contemporary, when he mocks monarchies, brings the mighty low, consoles the humiliated; contemporary when he deploys his grim processions of fugitives, denounces police repression, censorship and the abuse of power, rails against the ordinary stupidity and everyday cowardice; contemporary, too, when he hesitates on the canvas, leaves it unfinished (at least according to academic standards), ever conscious of the risk of sacrificing the essential to the incidental, of becoming enmired in the anecdotal and thus losing the expressive power of the sketch; contemporary because he was of his time, 'modern', according to Baudelaire, 'at ease in his era,' but also out of step with it, widely misunderstood. An artist for our century' (in "Situating Daumier," Daumier: 1808-1879, exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1999, p. 21).

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