“Here comes the great Charivari Gallop, with politics, literature, the remedial arts, theatre, commerce, society, morals, medicine, and surgery [...]!” – It was with this array of topics that the satirical journal Le Charivari canvassed for new subscribers in 1839. Founded in 1832, it ran daily satirical features on Parisian politics and everyday life until 1926, and subsequently weekly issues through to 1937. Each issue contained full-page caricatures of which some 5000 were penned by Honoré Daumier (1808–1879). His caustic critique of current events dominated the journal’s image for around 40 years.
Held in the Graphic Cabinets, the exhibition provides an overview of the range of material covered in Daumier’s contributions to Charivari. One of the show’s focal points is the series Actualités, in which he published a prolific number of caricatures. This series exemplifies the social explosive potency of Daumier’s portrayals, much of which directed unmitigated hostility towards the ruling elite. Daumier masterfully exploited the latitudes available to him in the face of constantly shifting censorship regulations vis-à-vis reporting by the liberal press.
The Kupferstichkabinett (Department of Prints and Drawings) at the Kunstmuseum Basel holds a comprehensive collection of Daumier’s prints, a selection of which, entitled Overdrawn. Caricatures by Honoré Daumier, was on display in the summer of 2022. The basis for this second presentation is the exhibition entitled, The Collector Curt Glaser. From Champion of Modernism to Refugee, concurrently on show at the Kunstmuseum Basel | Neubau. The Kupferstichkabinett acquired 105 Daumier sheets from the collection of Curt and Elsa Glaser. These are caricatures taken, almost without exception, from the Charivari, 40 of which are now on display.