The Laundress, c.1863

Details     Description
Artist Daumier, Honoré Victorin

About 1845 Daumier moved to the Ile Saint-Louis, to a house situated between the Lauzun and Lambert mansions. This gave him a view of the right bank of the Seine; from the roof he could see the left bank as well, the Ile de la Cite, the Montagne Sainte-Genevieve, and the Pantheon. There was always a line of boats daily filled with hardworking washerwomen who brought their laundry here. After the day’s work they climbed the stairs up to the street carrying heavy loads of wet linen. Children too young to be left at home alone usually accompanied their mothers.
In this painting we see one of those children holding the mother’s hand, as he laboriously climbs the step carrying her laundry paddle. Daumier often treated this subject. One of his sculptures portrays a washerwoman hurrying home, with her child holding on her skirt.
Here the figures are shown against the light. The dull reds are combined with blues that are reminiscent of Millet’s. The city in the background takes on the aspect of a sheer cliff. This picture is a stirring one, both for the feeling it reflects and for the masterful firmness of its execution.



Institution The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Medium: Oil on wood
Dimensions: 48.9 x 33 cm














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