Daumier's Comic Paris

Paris comique: revue amusante des caractères, moeurs, modes, folies, ridicules, excentricités, niaiseries, bètises, sottises, voleries et infamies parisiennes (Comic Paris. Amusing review of the Characters, Manners, Modes, Madnesses, Ridiculous, Eccentricities, Sillinesses, Silly things, Stupidities, Flailings and infamies Parisian. Nonpolitical text.) Paris: Chez Aubert, [1840?]. Texts written by Charles Philipon, 1800-1862; Louis Huart, 1813-1865; Henri Michelant, 1811-1890; Illustrations by Frédéric Bouchot, b. 1798; Cham, 1819-1879; Honoré Daumier, 1808-1879; Paul Gavarni, 1804-1866; J.J. Grandville, 1803-1847. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0467Q

Pictured here is a lithograph by the French artist Honoré Daumier created for the journal Paris comique or Comic Paris. The caption reads, “Malheur au Pêcheur à la ligne qui se trouve sur celle d’un bateau à vapeur!” Or in English, “Woe to the angler who finds himself in the wave of a steamer!”

For this work, Daumier received 40 francs, approximately equal to a month’s salary for an unskilled worker at the time. This was Daumier’s standard payment from the publishing house of Aubert and Aubert’s son-in-law Charles Philipon. Daumier had been working for these men since 1830, most notably supplying lithographs for their weekly La Caricature. His politically charged images so enraged the government of King Louis-Philippe that censorship laws were enacted in 1835 and as of 1836, Daumier stopped making political cartoons and moved exclusively to social satire. La Caricature ceased publication, but other journals soon took its place. Note that Paris comique states on its title page that it does not contain political texts.

Various copies of one issue of Paris comique might contain different prints, as Maison Aubert had a stockpile and simply used whatever was convenient to finish the run. This used to make researching and viewing all of Daumier’s work difficult, as researchers often had to go to several libraries. Today, the broad scope of Daumier’s work can be researched on a free database written by Dieter and Lilian Noack, which records and images all of his 4,000 lithographs and 1,000 wood engravings. A search for lithographs about fishing results in 51 prints, with complete information and images, including the one shown here. Take a look: http://www.daumier-register.org/werklist.php?lingua=en&search=intro