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Daumier and Exoticism

Satirizing the French and the Foreign

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Elizabeth C. Childs

Best known as a satirist of Parisian politics and daily life, Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) was a prolific caricaturist. This book is the first to examine the role of exoticism in his art, and to offer a detailed history of the journal Le Charivari in which the lithographs appeared. These satires of China, Haiti, the United States, Africa, and the Middle East not only target the theater of international politics, but also draw on a broad range of physical stereotypes supported by contemporary ideas about race and cultural difference. In an art of comic inversion, Daumier used the exotic to expose the foibles and pretensions of the Parisian bourgeoisie. A pacifist and a Republican, Daumier also satirized the non-European world in order to covertly attack the imperialism of Napoléon III in an age of press censorship. Idealistic as well as pragmatic, he used humor to stage political critique as well as to envision a more unified and compassionate world.