Don Quixote and Sancho Panza is a small oil-on-canvas painting that Honoré Daumier created around 1850. This artwork, currently displayed in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, depicts two popular characters from Miguel de Cervantes’ novel “Don Quixote.” Here, we see Don Quixote—the chivalrous but eccentric knight—and his loyal squire Sancho Panza riding their horses. The composition is reminiscent of a sketch as the work has an unfinished appearance.
This painting forms part of the literary-inspired works by Daumier during the Second Empire. One of the most important cartoonists of his time, he was known for his political caricatures and social commentary. Interestingly, after 1850, he repeatedly produced scenes from Don Quixote’s story with Sancho Panza playing a prominent role. His cartoons may have been comedic entertainment, but his paintings presumably revealed a deeper philosophical side of him.
Daumier’s portrayal of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza underscores their contrasting personalities: Don Quixote embodies idealism and chivalry while Sancho represents practicality and common sense. The work captures the essence of Cervantes’ novel by showcasing not only its humorous side but also its philosophical depth.