Honoré DAUMIER (Marseille 1808 - Valmondois 1879)

The Lawyer (L’avocat pathétique)

Pen and black ink and two shades of black wash, with pencil and charcoal.
Signed with initials h.D. at the lower right.
221 x 154 mm. (8 3/4 x 6 in.)


As a draughtsman, Honoré Daumier tended to depict a handful of favourite themes, notably carnival performers, women and children, people on trains and in railway stations, and the law courts. Working in chalk, charcoal, watercolour, pen and ink and wash, he created both finished drawings and watercolours for sale, as well as sketches or studies and quick ‘notes’. Karl Maison’s magisterial catalogue raisonné of Daumier’s paintings and drawings, published in 1967, lists a total of 826 drawings by the artist, executed over a period of approximately a quarter of a century, between the late 1840s and the early 1870s.

A regular visitor to the Palais de Justice in Paris in the 1830s, Daumier portrayed scenes from the law courts for the next thirty years. Of his courtroom drawings, Colta Ives has noted that ‘Daumier’s particular genius is evident in the stunning and disciplined clarity of his images. The artist never became mired in detail or narratives that required explanation, but instead concentrated on defining character through incisive description.’

As Claude Roger-Marx has opined, ‘Daumier is first and foremost a draughtsman, and to such a degree that one could almost say that he excels in suggestingcolour while dispensing with it. Unequalled as an exponent of black and white where nothing can impede his progress nor damp his ardour, this burning creative genius uses his brush like a pen or a chisel: the medium must not be allowed to interpose between the dream and himself, nor successive manipulations conceal the irresistible power of one of the most vital creators of all time.’

Henri-Camille Marcel, known as Henry Marcelle (1854-1926), served as director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, general administrator of the Bibliothèque Nationale and was also the head of the Reunion des musées nationaux. He published a biography of Daumier in 1907.

Joseph (Jos) Hessel (1859-1942), was the director of the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris and later became an independent dealer. 

Henry Marcel, Paris
Jos Hessel, Paris
Etienne Bignou, Paris
Private collection, Holland, by 1924
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 22 June 2004, lot 412
Jan Krugier and Marie-Anne Poniatowski, Geneva
Krugier sale, London, Sotheby’s, 24 June 2014, lot 388
Private collection.

on Marotte and Charles Martine, Dessins de Mâitres Français IV: Honoré Daumier, Paris, 1924, illustrated pl.30; Eduard Fuchs, Der Maler Daumier, New York, 1927, p.21, fig.24; K. E. Maison, Honoré Daumier: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, Vol.II, London, 1967, p.209, no.633, illustrated pl.238 (as location unknown).



The Lawyer (L’avocat pathétique)


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