Laveuse au Quai d'Anjou (Laundress on the Quai D’Anjou), ca. 1860
Oil on wood (cradled)
11 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches (28.6 x 19.7 cm)
George B. and Jenny R. Matthews Fund, 1964
On view in Overtime: The Art of Work (March 8–May 17, 2015)
Honoré Daumier began his artistic career painting Biblical and mythological scenes. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, he began to focus on the world around him, stating that "one must be of one’s own time." Although he made his primary living through caricatures and cartoons of the social and political situation of his time, he also created numerous paintings illustrating life in the city.
Since he did not grow up in a wealthy family, Daumier particularly sympathized with the plight of Paris's urban poor. This painting illustrates a scene he saw almost every day in the neighborhood where he lived on an island in the Seine River—women with their children and bags of laundry climbing or descending the stairs that led to the laundry boats along the docks. The dreary and difficult life they led is, through light and shadow, symbolically contrasted with the more privileged life of the people living in the bright, large houses along the opposite side of the river.
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WORKS ON TOUR
Please note that many of our most popular works, featured in this summer’s exhibition Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City, will be on tour through fall 2015. We hope you will come and find your new favorites while these works are out serving as ambassadors for Buffalo!
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