Louis-Philippe seen by Daumier

Louis-Philippe seen by Daumier

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Title: The past, present and future.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Creation date : 1834

Date shown: 1834

Dimensions: Height 21.4 - Width 19.6

Technique and other indications: Illustration from the newspaper: "La Caricature", January 9, 1834.Lithography

Storage place: Saint-Denis Art and History Museum

Contact copyright: © Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

The past, the present and the future.

© Saint-Denis, art and history museum - Photo I. Andréani

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

At the beginning of the year 1834, when this plate appeared, the July Monarchy, a regime born out of the popular uprising of the “Three Glorious Years” (July 28, 29, 30, 1830) but essentially bourgeois, entered. in a period of economic crisis and social unrest. This situation, fueled by the republicans with whom the monarchy has been in open conflict since the funeral of General Lamarque (June 1832), will lead the government to pursue a policy of repression and to pass laws restricting the freedoms of expression and 'association.

It is in this context that appears in the newspaper The caricature, in which Daumier has been collaborating since 1831, this portrait-charge of King Louis-Philippe.

Image Analysis

With the pear-shaped silhouette given to the king's head, this caricature follows on from the formula found in 1831 by Charles Philipon, director of The caricature, and often subsequently taken up by Daumier: from December 1831 in Gargantua, in February 1832 in The nightmare, and in March 1832 in Masks from 1831 where, in the middle of the grimacing faces of personalities of the regime represented as carnival masks, appears a pear on which appear in a very blurred way (because of the risk of offense of offense to the royal person) the features of Louis-Philippe.

In 1834, however, despite his trouble with the law, Charles Philipon, director of The caricature and Charivari, will describe openly, in a wood published by this last journal, the process which allows to pass from the royal facies to the pear. As for the theme of the head with three faces, it relates to the ancient iconography of the allegory of Prudence, but, associated as it is here with the principle of temporal reading from left to right, it refers more precisely at An Allegory of Prudence by Titian (London, National Gallery), triple portrait of the artist, his son Orazio and his nephew Marco, an old man, an adult and a child placed in parallel with the heads of a wolf, a lion and a dog. This famous painting was already in England at the time, but it cannot be excluded that Daumier, whose artistic culture was vast, learned of it through a copy, because Titian's work had passed into Parisian collections in XVIIIe century.


If any allegorical dimension is absent here, the meaning of this portrait-charge emerges clearly from the successive reading of the faces of the king in the order indicated by the title of the plate: on the left, an expression of confidence mixed with sufficiency (the past ), from the front a grumpy and closed air (the present), on the right, finally, an expression of fear.

These three faces obviously reflect the changing political and social climate of the July Monarchy, which Daumier enjoys prophesying - quite correctly, but it is true in advance - the darkest future ...

  • caricature
  • censorship
  • Orleans (of)
  • Louis Philippe
  • July Monarchy
  • political opponents
  • portrait
  • hurry
  • Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)


Philippe RÉGNIER (dir.), The Caricature between republic and censorship, Lyon, Lyon University Press, 1996.

Philippe VIGIER, The July Monarchy, Paris, PUF coll. "What do I know? », 1982.

COLLECTIVE, Daumier, 1808-1879, catalog of the exhibition at the Grand Palais (October 5, 1999 - January 3, 2000), Paris, RMN, 1999.

To cite this article

Robert FOHR, "Louis-Philippe seen by Daumier"

Video: Alphonse de Bourbon, laîné, face à Henri dOrléans, son cadet - La Cinq 1987


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