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Honoré Daumier

Women Pursued by Satyrs

Artist

Honoré Daumier
Marseilles 1808 – Valmondois 1879

Title

Women Pursued by Satyrs

Date

1850 (later additions made by the artist)

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

131.8 x 97.8 cm

Credits

Adaline Van Horne Bequest, inv. 1945.880

Collection

Western Art

Famous for his political caricatures, Daumier hoped to be considered a painter when he exhibited this extraordinary picture at the official Salon of 1850 in Paris. The vaguely mythological subject, unusual for a realistic artist, was more of 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 these tipsy bacchantes, the strident colours and the energetic brushwork. In his way of using bold cross-hatching to establish the planes of colour, he seems to leap ahead to the Impressionist experiments.

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