The Drawings of Daumier and Millet by Bruce Laughton
Daumier and Millet, two of the most important French artists of the mid 19th century, each produced drawings that were innovative and influential. This book by Bruce Laughton - a critical and comparative study of these drawings - investigates the artistic relationship that existed between Daumier and Millet. Laughton suggests that the two worked at a critical phase in the development of drawing as a language of expression in French art and that a study of their work reveals how new methods of conception and perception in drawing came about. Laughton summarizes the history of the personal relationship between Daumier and Millet from their first meeting in the 1840s. He defines the kind of drawing that they practiced and places it in the context of draftsmanship in France in the first half of the 19th century. He then analyzes their artistic activities during the critical years of 1845-51, situating them in the social and political history of the Second Republic and the inauguration of the Second Empire. Next Laughton compares the style and meaning of the urban and rural images in their drawings during the period from 1851 to 1865. In the final section he discusses certain other similarities in their work: the extent to which their landscape drawings were precursors of Impressionist art; the ways that their illustrations were related to literature of the period; and the effect of the political disasters of 1870-71 on the personal imagery that emerges in their later work. Laughton's definition of drawing is wider than that normally used. He includes lithographs, woodcuts, charcoal, chalk and pencil drawings, pastels and watercolours, and even the graphic treatment of works in oil on canvas in his discussion of creative processes that, he argues, were invented by these two artists to serve their respective needs.