Daumier @ Royal Academy


Political cartoons are not uncommon across newspaper’s today. They are humorous and often have the courage to visually express what everyone is thinking but doesn’t really want to openly admit. Honore Daumier was a French artist who is most famous for his prints of this nature in the 19th century. These are now on display at the Royal Academy along with some paintings and sculpture.

It is unlikely that many would have heard of Daumier. I for one was unaware of the Frenchman before seeing the exhibition posters splashed across the underground. I can say however, that I was pleasantly surprised by his lithograph newspaper prints. Each caricature cleverly illustrates the political issues of the time and ensures the viewer has smile constantly on their face.

Displayed with the political illustrations are miniature busts of the Daumier’s political characters in the form of his caricatures. These are wonderfully comical and while not visually stunning, certainly made me chuckle.

Also featured are the artist’s paintings. These images are very dark in colour and whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with them, they are not memorable.

This show is amusing. Daumier manages to make his once controversial political pieces light and enjoyable. He was greatly favoured by Baudelaire, and if he was good enough for him, Daumier is good enough for me!

Honore Daumier: Visions of Paris is on display at the Royal Academy until 26 January 2014

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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