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By Daumier, Honoré (French, 1808-1879)
This comical and witty lithograph is by the masterful Honoré Daumier, one of the leading artists of his day and an artist whose work is celebrated in our own time.
This lithographic print is by Honoré Daumier, the preeminent French satirist and caricaturist of the nineteenth century. The print depicts two lawyers, one whispering knowingly into the ear of the other. The meaning of the print is best understood by referring to its original context. This composition was first published in the September 14, 1864 edition of Le Charivari, a leading illustrated magazine in Paris throughout the nineteenth century—and a magazine known for its publication of satirical and caricatural material.
This print was originally published with an inscription that read, in French, “Eh bien, mon cher, vous avez perdu, vous qui aviez affirmé à votre client que vous gagneriez. / Eh bien oui, en plaidant sa cause j'ai gagné.... cinq cents francs.” Which reads, when translated into in English, “Well, my friend, it seems you have lost ... didn't you tell your client that you would win? / Quite so, by pleading his cause I have won 500 Francs.” Daumier is playing on the trope that a lawyer always wins, even when he loses. The work was published as part of Daumier’s ‘Parisian sketches,’ or ‘Croquis Parisiens’, series, which took as its subjects the many small misfortunes that beset the average Parisian.
The current print is signed lower left ‘h.D,’ for Honoré Daumier.
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