Honoré Daumier was born 26th February 1808 (or 1810) in Marseille. He was one of the leading caricaturists of the 19th century. In 1816 the family Daumier moved to Paris, and the young Honoré took various jobs, until a book dealer noticed his talent for drawing and supported him financially.
From 1822 Honoré Daumier attended a drawing course under the tutelage of Alexandre Lenoir and then studied at the Académie Suisse. Daumier also independently copied Old Master paintings by artists such as Rubens and Goya, and the antique sculptures in the Louvre. From 1829, he studied lithography.
He executed mainly political and socially critical caricatures, which were published for the first time between 1829-30 in the journal "La Silhouette". At the same time, Daumier began painting.
In 1832, he began working for the newly-founded journal "La Caricature", ruthlessly characterising figures from the monarchy and politics, until he was sentenced to 6 months in prison for insulting the monarchy. Following the banning of the "La Caricature" in 1837, Honoré Daumier worked for the "Charivari", which was also published by Charles Philipon.
Daumier’s biting satire was mainly directed at the petty bourgeoisie and the upper classes, and critical of the contemporary social situation. Whilst working as an illustrator and press cartoonist, he executed thousands of lithographs and various woodcuts.
Daumier was a highly respected figure in the Parisian cultural scene, and his circle of friends included painters such as Millet, Dupré, Delacroix, and authors such as Baudelaire and Balzac.
In 1848, Honoré Daumier began making oil paintings, but these works failed to gain the same recognition as his illustrations and caricatures. In 1865, he moved to Valmondois near Paris, and stayed there, supported by friends. Daumier gradually went blind. Working became increasingly difficult for him, and he was reduced to poverty. An auction in 1878 brought him renewed recognition and he was able to sell some of his works.
A year later, on 11th February 1879, Honoré Daumier died of a stroke.