Honore Daumier, Rue Transnonain, April 15, 1834
Seen as politically subversive, Daumier’s realist lithograph provided a trenchant commentary on the French government and their brutal mishandling of this incendiary event. Daumier’s lithograph presents the aftermath of a massacre in stark and graphic detail. A period of civil unrest had spread throughout France and a civil guard was killed outside of this apartment complex on the Rue Transnonain. Believing the murderer to be in the apartment building, the national guard stormed the building killing a number of civilians including a woman and child. 4 corpses lie in the room, representing three generations, perhaps Daumier’s suggestion that their rights will always be infringed upon by this French government. Daumier created this lithograph to mark the event, using a medium that was cheap and quick, thus it could circulate quickly in the newspapers. He places the viewpoint low, allowing the viewer to feel like they are in the room and he does not heroicize the bodied, rather offering a reminder that these corpses could be anyone. The French government knew how incendiary this work was and bought as many newspapers as they could. In response they further imposed stricter censorship laws to dissuade dissidents like Daumier.
(image courtesy of the Yale Art Gallery)