Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Any one who has known me for even a little bit, knows of my fondness for the work of Honore Daumier. He is one of France's best loved caricaturists and political satirists of the late nineteenth century and spent most of his energy attacking the hypocrisies and excesses of the bourgeoise. For me, his work has always embodied the ability to capture the essence of a character, with detail and rendering as lesser priorities.
On Tuesday, Randall, and my assistant and friend, Malia Hughes joined me for a trip to the Musee D'Orsay along with my two girls, Paulina and Fia. It's a spectacular place which was once a vast railway station at the turn of the century. Combing the various galleries, we stumbled upon a room devoted to the work of Daumier and there in a huge glass case were over thirty busts of the parliamentary figures of the day, molded in his characteristically energetic and unapologetic way. They look like as if he was rushing to capture the individual spark of each personality and if you look closely enough, you can still see his fingerprints in the clay. They are just as loose as his lithographs for which he is more widely known and are as alive as the day they were first molded into existence.
The following day, I was interviewed for a french television program about my work and influences. Daumier was fresh on my mind and I spoke a lot about him. Afterwards, I decided to take a different route back to the apartment we are renting in the Marais and strode along the Seine, taking my time. There, right before a bridge that would take me back to my temporary home, I happened to look up at a small building with a plaque set in it's face. "Here lived Honore Daumier" it said. Much of Paris has not changed physically since Daumier's time and it was easy for me to imagine him pulling open the front door and leaving the building with drawings tucked under his arm, ready to be printed by Le Charivari. It was a wonderful moment for me. I hope you enjoy these little sculptures. And if you aren't familiar with Daumier, than it is my pleasure to introduce you to him.


  1. I love Daumier. There is a illustration called The Censeurs (or something like this) that I used to illustration in my business cards. Amazing illustrator.

  2. These are really awesome, thanks for posting them!

  3. Oh thanks for posting them. Can you advice me for a good book about Daumier's drawings? grazie mille...

  4. really beautiful works! :D Thanks for sharing, Peter.

  5. Pete,
    Beautiful post about Daumier's D'Orsay busts. I'm especially impressed with your writing style, which, like your work itself, is beautifully expressive, fluid and well informed. Considering that the blog genre is all too often subject to no particular rules of form, substance and grammar, your style really stands out and ranks as a worthy counterpart to your art. Great viewing and reading! Keep it up!
    Big Brother

  6. Hi Pete & Randall,
    I logged into your blog to see how your Paris show went and found the post on Daumier.
    GREAT stuff! I had to respond to this.
    I have never seen those sculptures although I do recognize the characters from his drawings. It brought back memories of the Strand Bookstore in NYC. I remember when we stumbled upon those bible size double volume books of Grandville...Dore'...and Daumier... about what ...aaaahhh..hemmm...30 or so years ago?
    I remember we struggled to come up with the $12 or so to buy each set of books. We eventually came up with the money to each buy a set. I still have a prominent place on my library shelf for the frayed and weathered books.
    Daumier has always been a hero of mine. I'm sure I told you already about a trip I took to Paris in the early 1980's. One of the places I visited was the Pe're Lachaise Cemetary a well known site that is known for the tombs of many famous people in the arts from Delacroix to Modigliani to Chopin to Oscar Wilde to Balzac to Jim Morrison....and yes Daumier.
    Your description about Daumier rushing out of his house with a stack of drawings under his arm to meet his publisher struck a chord in me. It brought back an image that I had stored away in my mind of when I visited Daumier's grave as a young wannabe illustrator as I sat on his modest and unpretentious tomb. I had a sketchbook with me and have a memory of me drawing and writing about the humbling emotion I felt. I was surrounded by all of these flamboyant and extravagant headstones and there I was perched on the simple grave of a man that I aspire to be.
    Any way.... If you can make the time it would be a great place for you and Randall to visit.ère_Lachaise_Cemetery
    If you do make it there...track down Gustauv Dore'. I could not find him and it has always haunted me that I didn't. Take a picture for me.
    Enjoy your trip!
    Brian Ajhar

  7. You took... your... assistant to... Paris.

  8. I invit you to visit :

    where you will find a special french society honoring one of our most talented french artists and who is about to know how much you also love Daumier Peter ;-)
    A special Daumier/De Sève exhibition in Paris and Ny sounds obvious. Let's do it !

  9. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  10. Hi,
    I want to thank you for Dedications last Saturday, it was difficult to choose the topic and everyone talks about the ice age yet you've made lots of other great work too, my favorite is tarzan!
    I hope you leave a comment on my blog, I could show off!
    my friend is 3d animator is also admire you greatly.
    you can find is work here :

    I talked about here:

    see you soon!

  11. Brian,
    I was really touched by this remembrance and it brought me right back to those days when we'd comb the shelves of the Strand for treasures. And we found quite a few, too. I still have that Daumier set and the Dore as well as the Grandville and go to them every now and then when I need to shake something loose. This trip to Paris was a really good one and I came both humbled and inspired. I'm afraid I never made it to the Lachaise Cemetery, though, and didn't see Dore's stone either, so I guess it's now going to haunt me, too.
    Thanks, pal!

  12. correction:
    "I came away both humbled and inspired."
    I hate typos!

  13. Wow. I didn't know he sculpted as well. Thank you for posting these!

  14. I was in Paris last week and ended up spending 2 days at the Orsay partially because I wanted to see the Daumier works a second time and take photos. I loved the little characters in the flourishes on the lithos. I bet Daumier was hilarious in life.

    Also, Mr. De Seve, I was fortunate enough to see your show at Galerie Arludik. Your work and humor has always inspired me. Thank you!

  15. I saw an incredible show of Daumier's work at the BNF in Paris last year--