Portraits by Daubigny are quite rare, as he was primarily a landscape painter who was closely associated with the Barbizon group. He and Daumier, who was an artist, printmaker and caricaturist, had been friends since meeting in Paris in the 1840s. This portrait may have been painted between 1867 and 1868 when Daumier, then approaching his sixties, was staying with Daubigny in his new house at Auvers-sur-Oise – for which Daumier painted Don Quixote and the Dead Mule (Musée d’Orsay, Paris).
The portrait has been rapidly and thinly painted, especially the background. Emerging from the surrounding darkness, the face, seemingly preoccupied with thought, is painted more thickly and broadly with emphatic brushstrokes. These can also be seen in the scribbled strokes of white that form the collar and which spiral down the coat front. This technique, including the use of dark outlining strokes, particularly around the eyes and mouth, recalls Daumier’s own painting style.
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