Honoré Daumier’s “The Third-Class Carriage” is an oil on canvas painting created between 1862-1864. The painting portrays a group of working-class people in a cramped third-class railway carriage during the industrialization of Paris. Daumier paints this image with expressive brushwork, influenced by Goya, Delacroix, and Géricault. It accurately depicts the high demand for transportation at that time and shows how people packed themselves into carriages that lacked proper ventilation.
For Edgar Degas, another influential artist of the period who himself incorporated railway imagery into his work, “The Third Class Carriage” was a source of inspiration. The scene in the painting harkens back to one he recreated in his own etching called “Third-Class Carriage” from ten years later in 1876. Both artworks interrogate classism inherent within public transit transportation infrastructures.
Today, “The Third-Class Carriage” is housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and serves as a crucial commentary on how critical access to reliable transportation continues to be tied explicitly to various inequities historically inflicted upon mass marginalized populations globally.