The Print Collectors thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C , Case IONIDES, Shelf 20

The Print Collectors

Watercolour
1860-1864 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The great French graphic artist and caricaturist Honoré Daumier often returned to the subject of collectors and connoisseurs, looking over artist's shoulders or pouring over portfolios of choice prints, as in this picture. It has been said that Daumier chose such subjects because they sold well, appealing to collectors who saw their interests reflected. But their saleability alone does not account for Daumier's fascination with the subject, to which he returned so often. In the words of Henry James' memorable essay on Daumier, in them we see reflected 'the old Parisian quay, the belittered print-shop, the pleasant afternoon, the glimpse of the great Louvre and the other side of the Siene, ... estampes suspended in the window and doorway .. extracted, piece by piece from musty portfolios'. In such works Daumier captured the essence of the whole disease of collecting, and it is appropriate that the present example should have been owned by the great collector Constantine Alexander Ionides, who gave it to the Victoria and Albert Museum with other fine examples of Daumier's work, including a notable 'Railway Waiting Room'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleDeux amateurs d'estampes
Materials and Techniques
Pen and ink, wash and watercolour over traces of black chalk on paper
Brief Description
Watercolour, 'The Print Collectors', by Honoré Daumier, French school, ca. 1860-4
Physical Description
Scene of two connoisseurs, one seated, one standing, looking through a portfolio of prints. They are in a room in which the walls are densely hung with paintings.
Dimensions
  • Height: 34.5cm
  • Width: 31.1cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Signed lower right 'h. Daumier'
Gallery Label
  • Honoré Daumier 1808-1879 The Print Collectors About 1863-1865; signed Daumier was a great caricaturist, who produced satirical illustrations for French magazines. This drawing, however, depicts two collectiors engrossed in the study of a portfolio. It was given to the V&A by Constantine Alexander Ionides, who was an early British collector of progressive French art. Balck chalk, pen and ink, wash and watercolour on paper Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides 1901 Museum no. CAI.118
  • Daumier was fascinated by the 'disease' of collecting. Here his subject is a collector showing portfolios of etchings, which were intended for more intimate viewing than paintings on a wall. The collector leans back, confident in his ownership of the prints and his possession of knowledge about them(March 2006)
  • Ionides greatly admired the spirited draughtsmanship of Daumier and acquired several important finished drawings by him. This scene of old-fashioned connoisseurs echoes the novelist Henry James' recollection of French art-dealers and their customers in the 1860s: 'the old Parisian quay, the belittered print-shop, the pleasant afternoon, the glimpse of the great Louvre and the other side of the Seine, … estampes suspended in the window and doorway … extracted, piece by piece from musty portfolios'.(May 2008)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides
Object history
Acquired by Constantine Alexander Ionides by 1878; lent in 1878 by Ionides to Daumier exh. at Durand-Ruel in Paris, cat no. 205); in his inventory of 1881 (private collection) as 'Les collectionneurs d'estampes' with a valuation of £100; Bequeathed by C.A. Ionides, 1900
Historical context
A study for this drawing , in trhe Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, was no. 156 in the Daumier exhibition organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain, held at the Tate Gallery 1961.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The great French graphic artist and caricaturist Honoré Daumier often returned to the subject of collectors and connoisseurs, looking over artist's shoulders or pouring over portfolios of choice prints, as in this picture. It has been said that Daumier chose such subjects because they sold well, appealing to collectors who saw their interests reflected. But their saleability alone does not account for Daumier's fascination with the subject, to which he returned so often. In the words of Henry James' memorable essay on Daumier, in them we see reflected 'the old Parisian quay, the belittered print-shop, the pleasant afternoon, the glimpse of the great Louvre and the other side of the Siene, ... estampes suspended in the window and doorway .. extracted, piece by piece from musty portfolios'. In such works Daumier captured the essence of the whole disease of collecting, and it is appropriate that the present example should have been owned by the great collector Constantine Alexander Ionides, who gave it to the Victoria and Albert Museum with other fine examples of Daumier's work, including a notable 'Railway Waiting Room'.
Bibliographic References
  • 100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum. London, V&A, 1985, p.166.
  • K.E. Maison, Honore Daumier,Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, London 1968, vol. II,The Watercolours and Drawings, London, 1968, pp.129-30, cat. no. 379.
  • Basil S. Long, Catalogue of the Constantine Alexander Ionides Collection, vol. I, Paintings in Oil, Tempera and Water-Colour together with certain of the Drawings, London 1925, p.15. cat. no. 118
  • Colta Ives, Margret Stuffmann and Martin Sonnabend, Daumier Drawings , The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1992, no.72
  • E. Fuchs, Der Maler Daumier, Munich, 1927, No. 246.
  • J. Adhémar, Honoré Daumier: Drawings and Watercolours, New York and Basel, 1954, cat. no. 26.
  • Ives, Colta., Stuffmann, Margaret., and Sonnabend Martin, Daumier Drawings, New York, 1992, p.167
  • p.135John Berger, Daumier. Visions of Paris. London, Royal Academy, 2013. ISBN: 9781907533334.
Collection
Accession Number
CAI.118

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record createdFebruary 22, 2000
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