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Honor? Daumier, 1808-1879

The Amateurs (Visiteurs dans l'atelier d'un artiste; Atelier de peintre; The Connoisseurs)

Description:Read An Essay On This Drawing

Henry Walters followed in his father's footsteps as a collector but turned his attention toward medieval manuscripts, Italian paintings, and Asian art rather than the contemporary European art favored by the elder Walters. Nevertheless, when the opportunity arose, Henry added to the collections of modern French art his father had begun during their stay in Paris in the 1860s. Among the few drawings Henry purchased, this work was acquired from a sale in New York in 1910. The subject may have struck a nostalgic chord with the young collector, who sometimes accompanied his father on trips to Europe, during which they met with George Lucas and made the rounds of galleries and artists' studios.

The present drawing illustrates a shift in the relationship between artists and their patrons that resulted from the increased activity of the middle classes in the art market. With tongue in cheek, Daumier shows us an artist-cum-professor. He stands, somewhat pompously, in the midst of three eager amateurs pointing with his maulstick at a painting on an easel before them. Less caustic than some of his prints poking fun at the attendants of the Salons,1 this image nevertheless reverses the traditional artist/patron relationship by putting the artist in an elevated position vis-à-vis his patron.

Earlier in the century, artists sometimes depicted their predecessors in submissive roles relative to their aristocratic patrons, entertaining royal visits to their studios or painting their portraits. Even more striking is Bergeret's scene of artistic slavery in Fra Filippo Lippi Enslaved in Algiers (cat. no. 8).2 By mid-century, state commissions and royal patronage were on the wane. The government was often too demanding of an artist, changing plans after considerable work had already been done and not paying on time or sometimes not at all.3 Middle-class buyers filled the void in the market left by the state and aristocratic patronage, but they required more cultivation and tutelage from the artists themselves. Charles Blanc, director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and a proponent of educational reform, lamented the poor state of the public's art education and sought to remedy it with his multivolume text The Grammar of the Arts of Drawing, which was directed toward the "general public" rather than at artists, as most manuals were. Cheryl K. Snay

1. See, for example, The Salon on Opening Day, published in Le Charivari, June 1857, in which he shows several men in top hats examining the paintings and notes with irony, "True connoisseurs, a total of 60,000 people!"

2. See F. Haskell, "Old Masters in Nineteenth-Century French Painting," The Art Quarterly 34 (Spring 1971): 55-85, for a full discussion of the theme of artists' portrayals of their profession in the guise of history painting.

3. J. Lethève, The Daily Life of Artists in Nineteenth-Century France (New York, 1972), provides an informative analysis of the art market during this period. Gérôme, for example, declined an invitation to paint a mural in the Panthéon, a prestigious commission to be sure, because his easel paintings were far more lucrative.


Medium: black crayon with watercolor and gouache heightened with white gouache on cream, moderately thick, slightly textured wove paper
Dimensions: height: 32.4 cm, width: 30.8 cm.
Date: 1865-1868
Category: genre
Subject: man | artist
Inscriptions and Markings: "h. Daumier" in brown ink, lower right
Exhibition History: Awash with Color, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 2002; Daumier, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1999-2000, no. 256, p. 407, A Connoisseur's Portfolio: Nineteenth-century Drawings and Watercolors, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1983, no. 51; Daumier: Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, 1961, no. 21; Van Clouet to Matisse, Museum Boymans, Rotterdam, 1958-59, no. 106, p. 82; From Ingres to Gauguin: French Nineteenth-century Paintings Owned in Maryland, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, November-December 1951, no. 72, p. 28; Daumier, 1808-1879, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1937, no. 20, p. 28; La Caricature, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1888, no. 398
Bibliography: Committee for the Exhibition of French Drawings from American Collections. Van Clouet tot Matisse. Museum Boymans: Rotterdam. 1958.: p. 82. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Daumier, 1808-1879. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art. 1937.: p. 28. Phillips Collection. Daumier: Appreciations of His Life and Works. New York: Dutton. 1922. Escholier, Raymond. Daumier: Peintre et Lithograve. Paris: Floury. 1923.: p. 181. Klossowski, Erich. Honor? Daumier. Munich: Piper. 1923. Sadler, M. Daumier: The Man and the Artist. London: Halton & Truscott Smith. 1924. Fuchs, Eduard. Der Maler Daumier. Munich: Langen. 1930. Walters Art Gallery. Handbook of the Collection. Baltimore: Walters Art Gallery. 1936.: p. 166. Mongan, Agnes. "Six aquarelles inedit? de Daumier." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 17 (April 1937): 245-253.: pp. 246-247. Mongan, Agnes. "Six Rediscovered Satires by Daumier." The Art News 35 (August 14, 1937): 11-12.: p. 12. Art Digest. Baltimore Unearths Six More Walters' 'Finds'. 10/01/1937.: p. 6. Journal of The Walters Art Gallery. #1. Baltimore: The Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery. 1938.: p. 114. Lassaigne, Jacques. Translated by Eveline Byam Shaw. Daumier. New York: French & European Publications. 1938. Roger-Marx, Claude. Daumier. London: [n.p.]. 1938.: p. 34. Shoolman, Regina Lenore and Charles E. Slatkin. The Enjoyment of Art in America: A Survey of the Permanent Collections of Paintings, Sculpture, Ceramics and Decorative Arts in American and Canadian Museums. New York: Lippincott. 1942.: plate 528. Adh?mar, Jean. Honor? Daumier: Drawings and Watercolors. New York: Macmillan. 1954. Schweicher, Curt. Daumier. London: [n.p]. 1954.: p. 22. Art News. Review of Great Drawings of All Time, by Ira Moskowitz, ed.. Art News 62. 11/1963:18a-18d. Art News. November 1963.: p. 189.
Provenance: Honor? Daumier; P. Aubry, Paris, 20 March 1877, by purchase from the artist.; Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1895, acquired from Mme. Aubry; Cyrus J. Lawrence (1886-1910), New York; The Cyrus J. Lawrence Sale, American Art Association, New York, 21-22 January 1910, lot 34.; Henry Walters (1848-1931), Baltimore, 1910, by purchase from the Lawrence Sale [$1,225, using the alias Henry Chester].
Collection: The Walters Art Museum
Credit Line: Acquired by Henry Walters, 1910
Object Number: WAM 37.1228