Saturday, October 11, 2008

Daumier's Caricature Busts

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) had a gift for the devastating type of caricature that lays bare the pompous and foolish.

He made a series of small busts or maquettes of "Les Célébrités du Juste milieu" to use as reference for his incisive and irreverent drawings. One polychromed set can be seen in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Another casting of the set, without color, is on display in the basement of the National Gallery in Washington.

When I sketched some of them, I was struck by Daumier's approach to caricature not as an assortment of distorted features, but rather as a foundation in the construction of the skull underneath. If you go for the structure of the skull, both the likeness and the expression comes off more powerfully.

Here's one of his finished lithographs made with the benefit of the maquette.
Daumier on Wikipedia, link.
The Orsay collection, link


Mark Heng said...

Interesting observation about the distortion of the skull...I'm drawing caricatures again next weekend and will give it a go!

jeff said...

Daumier was brilliant as was Thomas Nast.

My favorite contemporary caricature artist is David Levine.

Super Villain said...

i would suggest to anyone interested in caricature art to check out mark heng's work (check the first post here for the link) some of the best caricatures i've ever seen!