Friday, 17 January 2014

Honoré Daumier at the Royal Academy of Arts

One of my very favourite places in London is the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly.

Do you know it? If you don’t, you can find it here: Royal Academy of Arts

I joined up as a friend way back when I first moved to London, and I can honestly say that I’ve learnt more about art within the walls of Burlington House than they ever managed to teach me at school.

These days I’m a huge fan of the visual arts and of art history, but when I arrived in the Big Smoke for the first time I didn’t know a whole lot about any of it. You see I’d grown up in a very rural corner of the world where we didn’t have a lot of access to museums and art galleries. At school I’d taken maths and the sciences to A-level so I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to lose myself in fine art.

All that changed, big time, when I  came to live in London. One of the many, many things I love about living here is having such fabulous art collections on my doorstep.

The Royal Academy is special, however, as its exhibitions encourage you to focus on stuff that you may not have paid much attention to before. I’ve discovered so many fabulous artists just by going along and having a look.

At the moment they have an exhibition up in the Sackler Galleries of the work of Honoré Daumier.

‘Who he?’ you ask.

I’ll confess that I’d never heard tell of him before either, but I can tell you he was a total Rock Star of a painter. He lived from 1808 to 1874, and his work reminded me very much of that of my great hero William Hogarth in that he saw things from the perspective of the little man/ woman, the normal guy, rather than the Duke or aristocrat. His work is infused with sympathy for the working poor. His brush strokes are brave and sparse, and painted with the satirical eye of a Hogarth, and in many ways anticipating the work of the impressionists.

I won’t talk on about his work, because you can read all about it on the RA website from people who know far more about him than I do, but, if you get a chance, do pop by and have a look for yourself. You’ll discover a fascinating window into the prejudices and pre-occupations of people living in nineteenth century France, but please go soon, as the exhibition closes on 26th January.


Bonny x

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