Honoré Daumier
(Marseille, 1808-1879, Valmondois)
Man Smoking and Absinthe Drinker, ca. 1856/60
Oil on panel, 27 x 34.5 cm
Maison, I-105
Daumier’s fierce arraignment, more than obvious in the picture of the two lawyers, has wholly relaxed in "Man Smoking and Absinthe Drinker". Daumier, who sought relief in alcohol in the cafés of the Ile Saint-Louis, who saw visions swirling in the smoke of his pipe, would have had himself to take his place in the dock. The anecdotal has given way to the ordinary, the casual. The drinker, whom life has disappointed, leans back easily and pursues his thoughts; he is superior to the smoker busily fussing with his pipe – this superiority is also formally expressed in the frontal monumentality of his figure. We have here two different temperaments, but confined with in the same limits by the parallel horizontals of the table and the top of the settee where they are seated. Daumier’s brush revels in the ebony-black of the suits before the deep red of the settee, bounded by the grey tones of table and wall.