How rich or poor was Daumier?

2018-09-12T09:55:30+00:00

November 13, 2004

(some not too serious observations about the costs of living in 19th century Paris)

Literature often mentions that Daumier was a relatively poor man, who followed Corot’s advice that an artists should always have debts in order to really be appreciated by his surrounding. This opinion has been well documented by Cherpin in his publication “Le dernier cahier de comptes de Daumier.” Revue Municipal nr. 29 pp 34-38 and 40-41, Marseille Mai-Juillet 1956. This booklet shows Daumier’s handwritten expenses and shows also how much he received from Le Charivari for each print (see also B. Laughton “Honoré Daumier”. Yale University Press, New Haven 1996).

Surprisingly, the amount of Francs Daumier received each month over a long period of his life when working for Le Charivari should have allowed him quite a comfortable life. You will find a list of some daily goods sold in Paris during that time. These prices have been either taken from Cherpin’s observation, or from the captions of Daumier’s own lithographs or, at a later stage directly from the advertisements published in Le Charivari.

Taking into account that Daumier, apart from his lithographs, also sold wood engravings as well as drawings and paintings during the later part of his life, it seems difficult to identify what Daumier did with his income. Maybe one day, a research paper will enlighten us all about the spending habits of Daumier. We might be able to find out why he ended up in financial difficulties and poverty despite of his fairly sufficient funds.

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