Honoré Daumier: The Uprising

The Uprising: Honoré Daumier

The Uprising is an 1848 realist painting by French painter and sculptor Honoré Daumier. It is in the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, United States of America.

The Uprising Analysis

The Uprising has Honoré Daumier recounting the deprivation of the Parisian poor in 1848, a year when attempted revolution was prevalent in many European nations, including Italian states, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland as well as Belgium, Ireland, and Spain. He paints in a realist style depicting the raw emotion of the center character.

The canvas frames one figure, in particular, that of a man in a white shirt lifting his right fist in the air while mouthing a shout. All around him a posse of denizens appear to be engaged in the same act of collective revolt; all the visible faces, which are proximate to him, appear to be looking in his direction.

The scene is most probably that of the popular uprising in Paris, in June 1848, which forced the abdication of King Louis Philippe and caused the institution of the Second Republic.

Encouraging this reading is the apparent contemporaneity of the painting with the events and the fact that Daumier witnessed  the violent clashes in Paris.

Leading the charge in this documentary snapshot is a man who is most certainly an urbanite, given his clothing. The presence behind him of a man in a top hat and of women to his right may be intended to suggest that the rebellion was popular in the widest sense.

This vision permeated by tonalities of brown obtains a strong impression of pent-up dynamic energy through the leading figure’s stark gesture, the harsh lining of all the human subjects (with strong, black borderlines), and the presence of a long, indistinct succession of urban buildings on the left, which — in conjunction with the barely obtruding edifice in the top-right — reinforce particularly well a sense of human beings shut in.

Daumier’s paintings of working-class life were a great inspiration to Edgar Degar who collected over 2,000 of his works during his lifetime.

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