Peace ridiculed: caricatures by Honoré Daumier

Past display archive
15 February - 23 October 2011

Room 24 case display


Richard Cobden; Joseph Sturge; John Bright
by Honoré Daumier
published 19 April 1856
NPG D9652

Honoré Daumier, one of France’s most talented political caricaturists, made his name with satirical images that exposed the vanity of the French Monarchy and the dangers of militarism. This display focuses on two sets of lithographs he produced for Le Charivari, a leading comic newspaper, in which he poked fun at a more curious target – an international peace movement, led by a group of British Quakers and pacifist politicians, who promoted the idea, radical for its time, that there were political alternatives to fighting wars.

Providing a unique insight into Anglo-French relations during this period, the two series represent separate, but related events, involving the Peace Society in Britain, and one of its principal supporters, Richard Cobden MP. The first documents the proceedings of a Peace Conference, organized by the society and  held in Paris in 1849, and the second, the imagined response of the ‘Friends of the Peace’ to the ending of the Crimean War in 1856. Incorporating a range of influential figures, including the French novelist, Victor Hugo, and the British politicians, Richard Cobden and John Bright, this display not only showcases Daumier’s outstanding skill as a caricaturist, but also considers why these pacifists, with their support of laudable policies such as disarmament and arbitration, incurred his scorn.

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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