Several museums are taking the attacks on freedom of opinion in Paris this past January as an occasion to make short-term changes in their programmes. The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart will present some fifty selected lithographs by Honoré Daumier and colleagues of his such as J. J. Grandville, Auguste Desperret or Charles- Joseph Travies.
The exhibition will pay tribute to the deep-reaching roots of French caricature and pictorial satire while at the same time exploring the highly topical issue of freedom of the press and opinion. In France, political caricature goes back to the French Revolution; over the course of the nineteenth century it became a central component of the French newspaper. The art of caricature drawing culminated in the influential political-satirical weekly La Caricature, founded in 1830.
Outstanding draughtsmen such as Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) wielded a deadly pen to exercise criticism of the circumstances prevailing in society, risking serious consequences: in 1832, Daumier served a six-month prison sentence for a caricature of King Louis-Philippe of France.
With lithography – which, developed in 1796, was still a relatively new technique – it was possible to reproduce images in large numbers. The magazine La Caricature was accordingly always supplemented with two loose-leaf lithographs commenting on current political events. Luxury proofs and lithographs from L’Association mensuelle lithographique became coveted collectors’ items and provided the draughtsmen with a financial backup for the expensive lawsuits.
In 1835, press and censorship legislation forced La Caricature to cease publication. From 1832 onward, it had had a daily counterpart in Charivari. Becoming ever less political as time went on, the newspaper addressed everyday problems, cultural events and societal issues. For the exhibition, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart can draw from its complete holdings of La Caricature from its first issue of 1830 to its last in 1835. The main focus will be on Honoré Daumier, the most prominent French caricaturist of the nineteenth century, who worked for both publications, La Caricature and Charivari.