Musical Notes by Honore Daumier
Prints from the Collection of Egon and Belle Gartenberg
Publication Date: May 2002
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A painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Honore Daumier (1808-1879) was one of the most prolific and important artists of nineteenth-century France. He played a leading role in shaping the new realism brought to the portrayal of everyday life, but he is now best known for the thousands of caricatures he published in magazines and newspapers such as Le Charivari, a daily with satirical articles and a wide circulation. Musical Notes by Honore Daumier, which accompanied an exhibition of prints from the Collection of Egon and Belle Gartenberg, focuses on Daumier's vivid records of the musical life of Paris. Although not himself a musician, Daumier had a keen interest in the amateur practice of the art as well as in grand opera and the celebrated performers and composers of his day.
Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Gioacchino Rossini, and Niccolo Paganini are among the "greats" lampooned in the lithographs in Musical Notes by Honore Daumier. Other prints offer satirical glimpses into the music making of everyday Parisians--from squawking clarinets to flirtatious piano teachers and straining tenors. In these lithographs, as in most of the prints Daumier produced during his long career, he discloses the foibles and follies of a society facing rapid changes in its cultural norms.