Wandering Saltimbanques by Honore Daumier

Wandering Saltimbanques - Honore Daumier - c.1847 - c.1850

Artwork Information

TitleWandering Saltimbanques
ArtistHonore Daumier
Datec.1847 - c.1850
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions32.6 x 24.8 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Wandering Saltimbanques

The artwork titled “Wandering Saltimbanques” is the creation of the artist Honoré Daumier, dating from approximately 1847 to 1850. It is an oil on panel painting that exemplifies the Realism art movement. The dimensions of the artwork are modest, measuring 32.6 by 24.8 centimeters. As a genre painting, it depicts scenes from everyday life, illustrating social realities. This particular piece is housed within the prestigious National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

“Wandering Saltimbanques” portrays a group of itinerant performers, known as saltimbanques, which were a popular subject in 19th-century French art. The focal point is a solitary figure in the foreground, clad in a ruffled white collar and a dark, draped garment that suggests a performer’s costume. The face, highlighted against a muted background, bears an expression that conveys weariness or introspection, typical of Daumier’s empathetic portrayal of human subjects.

In the shadows behind this central figure, other forms can be discerned, suggesting the presence of fellow performers. The use of chiaroscuro gives depth to the composition, with the bright light on the main figure’s face and chest contrasting with the murky tones of the background, reflective of the Realist movement’s focus on portraying the truth of human experiences. The rough, loose brushstrokes add a sense of movement and life to the scene, capturing a moment that speaks to the transient nature of the performers’ existence. The painting encapsulates the themes of struggle and the overlooked segments of society, concepts that Daumier frequently explored in his work.

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