ART EXHIBITION AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY SACKLER WING GALLERY OF HONORE DAUMIER – FRENCH ARTIST
I went to see the Daumier exhibition on Sunday, as I was in the West End of London. I am very glad I made it just before the exhibition closed. It was called
DAUMIER, 1808-1979 VISIONS OF PARIS – 28 OCTOBER 2013 TO 26 JANUARY 2014
An interesting piece of information from the exhibition was that ‘Daumier did not draw from life or employ models in his studio. Instead he worked from memory, reworking many images ‘twenty times over’ and then completing them in just a few hours”
I noticed that there were quite a few oil paintings, and small sketch-like works, which surprised me as I have always thought of Daumier as a print maker. Yes, his main income was from satirical lithography, provided for the press in Paris, but he also worked on painting in oils, and ink or watercolour, and sculpture.
From the leaflet I learned that ‘only a handful of his paintings and drawings can be dated with certainty as they were rarely exhibited, published or sold’.
The small works were so interesting, as they seemed very modern in their subject matter and the atmosphere seemed sometimes sad and wistful, a wistfulness which he conveyed brilliantly. I am thinking of the series of paintings of clowns, Les saltimbanques
PAINTINGS OF WOMEN
The images of working women, with children in tow, were what caught my eye. Above is The Burden, painted in oil on paper, 47cm x 27cm. These images are small. Apparently Daumier used to live on Isle Saint Louis, and watched the laundresses with their burdens coming up from the Laundry Boats on the River Seine. This painting is usually in Dijon.
Some of the works were made with an interesting mix of media, for instance, charcoal, gouache, black ink, pencil, conte, wash, watercolour. The results were beautiful, i thought, and very rich. They inspired me to use gouache and conte crayon on my drawings of London, as well as what I usually employ which is black pen, pencil or soft black crayon. I am now a member of Urban Sketchers London!
Van Gogh wrote at length of Daumier in his letters, he was friends with Corot and Victor Hugo, and apparently some of the modern artists in particular who admire him include Paula Rego, Quentin Blake and Gerald Scarfe.
I was reminded of the work of Edward Ardizzone, the author and illustrator, too. Here is a link to some Ardizzone pictures on The Tate website. Do have a look in particular at The Bedroom
I think my favourite image was the small Hunters by the Fire, of which I could not find a postcard. It three men and their dog, looking into the smoky fireplace, and it is in atmospheric greys and blacks. The list of media is: charcoal, pen and ink, watercolour heightened with gouache. Very lovely. Here is a link to the image which I found in the Art Print Collection http://bit.ly/1esvTp3
I shall look out for more Daumier works now, not only are the works he produced interesting but the story of his life is also the story of a modern man, who stuck to his beliefs and did not follow the temptation to produce large fashionable works just to make lots of money.
The works were on show in the Sackler Wing of the RA, right on the top so we have to get there in the lift. The first of the rooms is always crowded – I usually walk through to the following rooms where there is more space, then maybe reverse my walk when the crowds have lessened.