Lithograph by Honore Daumier (Ami de Personne [Nobody’s Friend])
Ami de Personne [Nobody’s Friend]
Restrike by The Collector’s Guild
Gift of Mac McPherson, 2000
The tavern proprietor, long clay pipe in hand, gazes at an undertaker who sips delicately perhaps awaiting his next client. The French-text caption included below original edition prints gives a clue to the scene, as the proprietor observes, “This one, he could be as poor as the stones before I would give him a penny’s-worth of work.”
The defiance of the French monarchy Honoré-Victorin Daumier (1808–1879) dared to project in his lithographs appearing in Paris’s satirical weekly La Caricature led to his 1832 sentence to six months imprisonment divided between Sainte-Pélagie and a mental institution. Notwithstanding, his humor continued to bite, enlisting approval by many. The lithographic technique was still new, having been invented in Germany at the end of the eighteenth century. Publishers of the politically pointed illustrated journals used the speed and economy of lithography to advantage. The weeklies became popular with workers and leaned toward advocacy of workers’ causes, to the antagonism of political, financial, legal, and business interests. Daumier was on the staff of La Caricature and its successor Le Charivari, and produced over four thousand lithographs and wood engravings featured in them from 1830 to 1875.
As might be expected sculptures that Daumier created throughout his life portray the same comical and grotesque aspects of characters as his lithographs. His paintings however, now represented in collections around the world, have been difficult for historians to categorize. Daumier enjoyed an early affiliation with the Barbizon School, has been called a Realist, as well as a Romanticist. The poverty of his early life, forced into employment at the age of thirteen, fixed Daumier’s perspective. His canvases reflect closely observed human situations, moral lessons, but more often than not, empathy. During his lifetime Daumier’s paintings found little public recognition until 1878 when friends arranged a retrospective exhibition in Paris which was met with public and critical acclaim. Daumier died a few months later.
The donor of Ami de Personne, J. Mac McPherson, is a retired member of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and former staff member of Bridwell Library.