(b. 1808, Marseille, d. 1879, Valmondois)

Charles Philipon

c. 1833
Unbaked clay, tinted, 16,4 x 13 x 10,6 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The magazines Daumier worked for, La Caricature and Le Charivari, had been founded by Charles Philipon in 1831 and 1832, exploiting the relative press freedom that existed early in the July monarchy. The climate had since changed, and by 1835 Daumier had to deal with aggressive censorship. This did not prevent him building a huge following for his lithograph cartoons, which mocked the emerging bourgeois capitalism of the time. To aid him in drawing its typical characters he turned to sculpture, modelling a series of small exaggerated busts in unbaked painted clay. Probably made from his 'almost divine' memory rather than surreptitiously from life, as has sometimes been claimed, these can be positively diabolical, occasionally absurd. Even his friends were not exempt. Philipon with his porcine snout seems both probing and benign, as if deserving Baudelaire's paradoxical verdict on Daumier himself: 'The energy with which he paints evil and its works proves the beauty of his heart.'