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Honoré Daumier

Women Pursued by Satyrs


Honoré Daumier
Marseilles 1808 – Valmondois 1879


Women Pursued by Satyrs


1850 (later additions made by the artist)


Oil on canvas


131.8 x 97.8 cm


Adaline Van Horne Bequest, inv. 1945.880


Western Art

Famous for his political caricatures, Honoré Daumier gained recognition as a painter when he exhibited this extraordinary picture at the official Salon of 1850 in Paris. The vaguely mythological subject, unusual for Daumier, appears a pretext for depicting two bare-breasted women amid a whirlwind of draperies attempting to escape from their pursuers. The canvas was coldly received by the critics: one found it to be “a pandemonium of colours.” Towards the end of his life, Daumier retouched it, striping it with strident greens and orange tones. The result is certainly one of his most astonishing works. He pays tribute to Flemish, Rococo and Romantic art with the opulent sensuality of the figures, the strident colours and the energetic brushwork. In his way of using bold cross-hatching to establish the planes of colour, he also anticipates later developments in Impressionist painting.

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