The Studio
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Honoré Daumier
French, about 1870
Oil on canvas
16 x 12 1/2 in.

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Known for his satirical, touching portrayals of contemporary life, Honoré Daumier changed direction temporarily after seeing a newly hung collection of paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in the Musée du Louvre in 1869.

Struck by the expressive power of Fragonard's rapid brushstroke, Daumier paid homage to his predecessor in a series of paintings that included The Studio. Daumier, who almost never portrayed beautiful women as objects of attraction, succumbed to Fragonard's sensuality and endowed this model with the upswept hair and casual off-the-shoulder costume of Fragonard's females. Emulating Fragonard's manner of sketching on canvas, Daumier made her dress shimmer, drawing with his brush to build the lights cascading from her blouse onto her full skirt.

Aside from touches of gestural brushwork on the man's sleeve, the model's hair, and the woman's brilliantly illuminated skin and dress, this painting's darker palette and largely subdued brushwork are consistent with Daumier's usual style. The artist hunched over his easel in the background also resembles his frequent depictions of painters or connoisseurs profoundly isolated by involvement with a work of art.