(Marseille 1808 - 1879 Valmondois)
Homme sur un Cheval Blanc, c.1860
Oil on panel, 38 x 25 cm
Monogrammed lower left h.D.
The artist’s estate;
Marie-Alexandrine Daumier (1822-95), the artist’s widow1;
James Staats Forbes (1823-1904), railway administrator and art connoisseur, London;
E. A. Fleischmann’s Hofkunsthandlung, Munich, auction sale XIX, March 21, 1906, Gemälde-Sammlung (II. Teil) des Herrn J. S. Forbes, Chelsea, London, p. 15, lot 29, plate XII;
Galerie Heinemann, Munich, no. 8216 (from April 4,1906);
Dr. Hermann Eissler (1860-1953), industrialist and art collector in Vienna (acquired from Galerie Heinemann on May 5, 1906);
Eduard Fuchs (1860-1940), Berlin/Paris (acquired before 1926);
Margarete Fuchs (1885-1953), widow of Eduard Fuchs, Paris/New York;
Michael N. Altman Fine Art, New York;
Rolf and Margit Weinberg, Zurich/New York (from 1986);
Michael N. Altman Fine Art, New York;
English private collection (acquired in 2009).
Exposition des peintures et dessins de Honoré Daumier, Paul Durand-Ruel, Paris 1878, p. 63, no. 77 (as L'Abreuvoir), loaned by the artist;
Honoré Daumier 1808 - 1879, H.O. Miethke, Vienna, November-December 1908, no. 43, loaned by Dr. H. Eissler;
Honoré Daumier 1808 - 1879. Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Plastik, Galerie Matthiesen, Berlin, February 21-March 31 1926, no. 31, loaned by Eduard Fuchs;
Corot, Daumier, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 16-November 23, 1930, p. 32, no. 55, loaned by Eduard Fuchs;
El Greco bis Mondrian: Bilder aus einer Schweizer Privatsammlung, Stiftung und Sammlung Weinberg, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau; Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal; and Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister, Dresden, Cologne 1996, p. 58.
Arsène Alexandre, Honoré Daumier, l'homme et l'oeuvre, Paris 1888, p. 375;
Erich Klossowski, Honoré Daumier, Munich 1908, p. 55 and p. 88, no. 31 (identical with no. 34);
A. Roessler, ‘H. Daumier’, in Bildende Kuenstler, Vienna 1911, p. 209;
L'Amour de l'Art, Paris 1926, p. 160;
Paul Westheim, ‘Das Haus eines Sammlers’, in Das Kunstblatt, J. 10, Potsdam 1926, p. 110, repr. p. 101;
Eduard Fuchs, Der Maler Daumier, Munich 1927, p. 49, fig. 79;
Christian Zervos and Eduard Fuchs, ‘Revisions Honoré Daumier und Honoré Daumier’, in Cahiers d’Art, III, Paris 1928, p. 186, repr.;
Eduard Fuchs, Der Maler Daumier, Munich 1930, no. 79, repr.;
Cahiers d’Art, I/II, Paris 1932, p. 39;
Jean Adhémar, Honoré Daumier, Collection Prométhée, Paris 1954, plate CVIII;
Karl Eric Maison, Honoré Daumier: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings, I (The Paintings), London and Greenwich CT 1968, no. I-75, plate LXVII;
P. Georgel and Gabriele Mandel, Tout l’Oeuvre Peint de Daumier, Paris 1972, no. 93;
Ulrich Weitz, Salonkultur und Proletariat: Eduard Fuchs Sammler, Sittengeschichtler, Sozialist, Stuttgart 1991, p. 304;
Ulrich Weitz, Der Mann im Schatten Eduard Fuchs, Berlin 2014, p. 8, repr.
[Honoré Daumier] discovered the horse-and-rider motif at the watering place. Every evening he would experience the same spectacle on his doorstep at 9 Quai d’Anjou. An exciting sight for a painter, no doubt, to see the beasts snorting in agitation, hustled on by half-clad fellows and coming down to the water in multiple, constantly changing configurations.2
From his studio window at 9 Quai d’Anjou on the Île Saint-Louis, Daumier could look directly down on the horses being led to their watering place on the Seine.3 In the 1850s, he began to record his observations in a series of paintings depicting horses and riders at the watering place. Two versions of the motif now in public collections are L’Abreuvoir now in the National Museum Cardiff and Les Cavaliers, now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.4
The present, vertical-format painting is one of this series. It depicts a young horseman in short black trousers riding bareback and without reins on a gray horse. Horse and rider occupy almost the entire picture space. The background is indeterminate and Daumier dispenses with elaboration of detail. The sky is indicated in bluish-greenish and the ground in a brownish-gray tone. The horse dances skittishly, turning to the left against his young rider whose torso is strained in the opposite direction. The resulting tension shows certain parallels with Géricault’s equestrian portraits and lends the small-format painting a sense of sculptural monumentality. Daumier was largely self-taught and did not emerge as a painter until 1848. In this oil his artistic achievement lay in his ability to turn an unremarkable daily scene into a significant history painting.
The horse-and-rider theme runs like a thread through Daumier’s entire oeuvre. Parallel to the horse-and-rider series mentioned here he also began work on a significant independent subject – a series of variations on the Don Quixote theme. However, with his depiction of Rosinante, the emaciated nag of Cervantes’s hero, he was to coin an entirely different characterisation of the horse.
Among the many exhibitions in which the present painting was shown, two stand out. One was the only lifetime retrospective of Daumier’s work, held at Durand-Ruel in 1878, a year before his death. This one-man exhibition was organized by Daumier’s friends to help him financially but it had only limited success and a poor reception. Not so the second exhibition. Titled ‘Corot and Daumier’, it was staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1930. The critics were highly enthusiastic: ‘The attendance at this exhibition was so great that it was at times almost impossible to see the pictures, and notices were posted calling attention to the fact that the exhibition was open in the evenings, as well as during daylight hours.’5 The present painting was loaned to this exhibition by the Berlin-based writer and art collector Eduard Fuchs (1860-1940), author of a comprehensive catalogue of Daumier’s work and owner of a very significant collection of his lithographs, drawings and paintings6 (Fig. 1).
1 See Arsène Alexandre, Honoré Daumier, l'homme et l'oeuvre, Paris 1888, p. 375: ‘à Mme Veuve Daumier’.
2 Erich Klossowski, Honoré Daumier, Munich 1908, p. 54.
3 Robert Rey, Honoré Daumier, New York 1965, p. 122.
4 See Daumier, 1808-1879, exhib. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa; Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris; and The Phillips Collection, Washington 1999-2000, pp. 306-7:
Honoré Daumier, L’Abreuvoir (The Watering Place), 1855-60, oil on panel, 44.7 x 55.7 cm, National Museum and Gallery, Cardiff, inv. NMW A 2451.
Honoré Daumier, Les Cavaliers (Horsemen), c.1855, oil on canvas, 58.4 x 83.8 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, inv. 41.726.
5 ‘Corot and Daumier: A Notable Exhibition, The Museum of Modern Art’, in The American Magazine of Art, XXI/12, 1930, p. 708 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/23931954, accessed October 10, 2018).
6 See Ulrich Weitz, Salonkultur und Proletariat: Eduard Fuchs Sammler, Sittengeschichtler, Sozialist, Stuttgart 1991, pp. 315-8.
See also the monograph on Daumier published by Fuchs in 1930. The Daumier expert Karl Eric Maison held this (op. cit., 1968, p. 42) to be the first systematic attempt to compile a complete catalogue of Daumier’s paintings and drawings based on reproductions of his work. In 1930, Fuchs owned twenty-five paintings by Daumier. However, present-day research has established that only fourteen of these were authentic. See Weitz, op. cit., 1991, p. 316.