Daumier, Honoré. (1808–1879)

"Messieurs les bouchers No. 3" - Lithograph

Lithograph by the French artist depicting a butcher and his wife in their shop, struggling to reach a high-hanging sheep.  Ca. 1857.  Caption below reads, "Allons, v'la encore le mouton qui a haussé...les bouchers eux-mêmes ne peuvent plus y atteindre!..." ("Ah, here comes that lofty sheep... the butchers themselves can no longer reach him!").  Matted and framed, some soiling around margins, light spotting, else fine.  13.5 x 10.75 inches (34.2 x 27.3 cm.), framed to 20.5 x 17.5 inches (52 x 44.5 cm.).

A prolific artist, Daumier was a printmaker, illustrator, painter, and sculptor.  Best known for his caricatures, he specialized in social and political commentary, satirizing French life in the 19th century.  He produced over 500 paintings, 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 1000 drawings, and 100 sculptures.  

In the mid-19th century a group of French scientists led by Louis Pasteur established a connection between microorganisms and disease. The appalling conditions of the Parisian butcher shops and the threat of bacterial contagion that they posed to the health of the urban populace led to widespread calls for reform in the industry. As an astute chronicler of contemporary society, Honoré Daumier recorded the butchers' abuses in a series of twelve lithographs entitled Messieurs les bouchers (Delteil, nos. 3010-3021) that were published in Charivari between 1857 and 1858. These lithographs were accompanied by an editorial text that exoriated the ethics of the trade and portrayed the butchers as villains. (19362)

Art & Design