Busts-charges of bankers by Honoré Daumier

Busts-charges of bankers by Honoré Daumier

  • Benjamin Delessert.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

  • Antoine Odier.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

  • Jacques Lefevre.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

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Title: Benjamin Delessert.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 18.7 - Width 5

Technique and other indications: Painted mud sculpture. Around 1832-1833 Belongs to all Celebrities of the Just Middle.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Picture reference: 08-546534 / RF3482

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

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Title: Antoine Odier.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 15.1 - Width 11.8

Technique and other indications: Painted mud sculpture. Lewandowski

Picture reference: 98-017094 / RF3500

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

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Title: Jacques Lefevre.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 20.1 - Width 12.1

Technique and other indications: Painted mud sculpture. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 08-546550 / RF3498

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Publication date: June 2011

Historical context

The July oligarchy

Fragmented into competing groups, parliamentarians were nonetheless an entity of exceptional sociological homogeneity, thanks to the electoral cens of five hundred francs which reserved elective functions for notables from various backgrounds. The three busts presented here come from the series of “Celebrities of the Just Middle”, an expression which parodies a speech given by Louis-Philippe a few months after his accession to power.

It is interesting to analyze these three bankers together in light of the considerable influence of this corporation during the July Monarchy. Thus, for the legitimist historian Capefigue, the luxurious social events organized by Delessert or Odier were accompanied by "heaviness of form, a mixture of souvenirs and traditions from the shop" (Quoted by Louis Bergeron, The Capitalists in France, 1780-1914, p. 120.). The cartoons of Republican Daumier may have come from the other side of the political spectrum, but such a view situates the extent of prejudice against financial circles at the time.

Image Analysis

The raw material of Daumier's lithographs kneaded by hand

The three bankers analyzed here appear in "Le Ventre Législatif", the famous composition by Daumier published for the first time by The Monthly Association in January 1834. The figures are seated side by side in the upper right corner. These small busts enlighten us on the process adopted by Daumier, who developed his lithographs from casts made beforehand. The modeling is expressive, precise, the volumes reproduce the folds of clothes, hairstyles, facial features and wrinkles. This preparatory work for the graphic composition allowed Daumier to grasp the elements that would serve as raw material for his caricature.

Tucked into their coats and mufflers, with receding hairline, these three figures of the upper middle class present very similar general features, which the artist thinks of as a reflection of their social homogeneity. The facies however offer various expressions. Rather well rounded, Delessert and Odier thus appear to have very different temperaments, easygoing for the first, hard and full of arrogance for the second. With his lean face in an inverted triangle and his eyes close together, Lefevre stands out in the stereotype of the healthy banker.

Interpretation

"The reign of the bankers" (Karl Marx)

The diversity of expressions conferred by Daumier on these three bankers can be compared to the characteristics specific to each of them. The most affable and benevolent in appearance, Benjamin Delessert, was a philanthropic banker who initiated savings banks in France. In contrast, Odier, also from a family with Swiss origins, was much more of a man of the established order. The caricature, a newspaper in which Daumier contributed, thus says of him that "his name is Odier ; it was by mistake that the lithographer printer wrote Odious » (The caricature, June 20, 1833). Likewise, Lefebvre was a regent of the Banque de France with conservative positions. Far from amalgamating with all force the representatives of the world of finance, Daumier thus shows his sense of nuance in the treatment of these three figures.

These sculptures nonetheless shed light on a side of the July monarchy, a time of the “reign of the bankers” to use Karl Marx's expression, also a time of power restricted by censal suffrage to a thin elite within which political failings flourished: Most of our politicians who have been leading us for ten years have changed their principles and parties so many times that it is possible to believe that they have no principles and that they are incapable or unworthy. to have a party ”, notes Tocqueville in 1843. Now“ Le Ventre Législatif ”refers to the Constitutionals, a volatile back-up force for most of the ministerial majorities: Daumier's representation, these flabby beings, of an uncertain consistency, can be compared to the nature of their political practices.

  • bank
  • bourgeoisie
  • caricature
  • July Monarchy
  • portrait
  • publicity
  • silver

To cite this article

François BOULOC, "Busts-charges of bankers by Honoré Daumier"


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