This painting, which was first exhibited in Paris in 1861, bears a resemblance to an illustration by Daumier's contemporary Paul Gavarni that was published twenty years earlier. The escape that alcohol offered to the poor is typical of the social themes Daumier explored throughout his career. The first owner of this work was the landscape painter Charles Daubigny.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): h.D.
Charles Daubigny, Paris (gift of the artist; 1860–d. 1878); his widow, Mme Daubigny, Paris (from 1878, priced at Fr 600); Henri Rouart, Paris (by 1888–d. 1912; his estate sale, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, December 9–11, 1912, no. 171, for Fr 35,000 to Knoedler); [Knoedler, New York, 1912–17; stock no. 13047; sold in January for $11,000 to Lewisohn]; Adolph Lewisohn, New York (1917–d. 1938; cat., 1928, p. 34, ill.); his son, Sam A. Lewisohn, New York (1938–d. 1951); his widow, Margaret S. Lewisohn, New York (1951–d. 1954)
Paris. Galerie Martinet. "Exposition de peintures d'artistes contemporains et loterie au profit de la société des amis de l'enfance," February 1861, no. 141 [see Adhémar 1954, Maison 1968, Pantazzi 1999].
Paris. Galeries Durand-Ruel. "Exposition des peintures et dessins de H. Daumier," April 17–June 15, 1878, no. 49 (as "Les buveurs," lent by Mme Daubigny).
Paris. Palais de l'École des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition Daumier," May 1901, no. 68 (as "Les Buveurs").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition," May 8–August 1920, unnumbered cat. (p. 9, as "The Drinkers," lent by Adolph Lewisohn).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Corot–Daumier," October 16–November 23, 1930, no. 69 (as "Drinkers," lent by Adolph Lewisohn, New York).
Buffalo. Albright Art Gallery. "The Nineteenth Century: French Art in Retrospect, Eighteen Hundred to Nineteen Hundred," November 1–30, 1932, no. 15 (as "The Drinkers," lent by Adolph Lewisohn, Esq., New York).
Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1933, no. 240 (as "The Drinkers," lent by the Adolph Lewisohn Collection, New York).
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Daumier: Peintures, aquarelles, dessins," 1934, no. 7 (as "Les Buveurs," lent by Adolphe [sic] Lewisohn, New York).
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Independent Painters of Nineteenth Century Paris," March 15–April 28, 1935, no. 2 (as "The Drinkers," lent by the Adolph Lewisohn collection, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from New York Private Collections," July 2–September 22, 1946, unnumbered cat. (as "The Drinkers," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Sam A. Lewisohn).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Lewisohn Collection," November 2–December 2, 1951, no. 19 (as "The Drinkers").
London. Tate Gallery. "Daumier: Paintings and Drawings," June 14–July 30, 1961, no. 45 (as "Two Men drinking").
Nashville. Fisk University. "100 Years of European Painting," April 28–June 10, 1965, unnum. checklist.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Daumier, 1808–1879," June 11–September 6, 1999, no. 303 (as "Two Men Drinking").
Duranty. "Daumier (2e et dernier article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 17 (June 1878), p. 538 [possibly this picture].
Arsène Alexandre. Honoré Daumier: L'Homme et l'œuvre. Paris, 1888, p. 375, as "Les buveurs" in the collection of M. Rouart.
Gustave Geffroy. Daumier. Paris, , p. 26, erroneously lists it still in Mme Daubigny's collection.
Erich Klossowski. Honoré Daumier. Munich, 1908, p. , no. 264, pl. 61.
R[obert]. E. D[ell]. "Art in France." Burlington Magazine 22 (January 1913), p. 241, erroneously states that Knoedler purchased it for Fr 38,500 at the Rouart sale.
"French, English, and American Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (September 1920), pp. 205–6.
Erich Klossowski. Honoré Daumier. 2nd rev. ed. Munich, 1923, p. 110, no. 264, pl. 102.
André Fontainas. La Peinture de Daumier. Paris, , unpaginated, ill.
Eduard Fuchs. Der Maler Daumier. Munich, 1927, p. 47, no. 31, pl. 31 [2nd rev. ed., 1930].
Stephan Bourgeois. The Adolph Lewisohn Collection of Modern French Paintings and Sculptures. New York, 1928, pp. 34–35, ill.
Stephan Bourgeois. "The Passion of Art Collecting: Notes on the Adolph Lewisohn Collection." Art News (April 14, 1928), p. 64.
Edith von Térey. "Die Sammlung Adolph Lewisohn, New York." Kunst und Künstler 27 (August 1929), p. 417, ill. p. 419.
A[lfred]. H. B[arr]. Jr. Corot – Daumier. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1930, pp. 19, 33, no. 69, ill., observes the influence of Rembrandt in this picture's dramatic chiaroscuro.
Eduard Fuchs. Der Maler Daumier: Nachtrag—Supplement. Munich, 1930, pp. 3, 62 under no. 278, reproduces "The Drinkers" in the H. Fiquet collection, Paris, calling it a larger repetition of this picture.
Samuel A. Lewisohn. "Drama in Painting." Creative Art 9 (September 1931), p. 191, ill. p. 194.
Stephan Bourgeois and Waldemar George. "The French Paintings of the XIXth and XXth Centuries in the Adolph and Samuel Lewisohn Collection." Formes nos. 28–29 (1932), pp. 301–2, ill. between pp. 300 and 301.
A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture Lent from American Collections. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1933, pp. 36–37, no. 240, ill.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Art in the Century of Progress." Fine Arts 20 (June 1933), ill. p. 32.
Independent Painters of Nineteenth Century Paris. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1935, p. 12, no. 2, ill. p. 57, includes an unidentified poem by Baudelaire in the catalogue entry.
Sam A. Lewisohn. Painters and Personality: A Collector's View of Modern Art. [New York], 1937, p. 70, pl. 97.
Jacques Lassaigne. Daumier. Paris, 1938, ill. p. 47, calls it "The Topers".
Lionello Venturi. Modern Painters. Vol. 1, New York, 1947, p. 179, dates it from "about the same period" as "The Miller, His Son, and the Ass" (1849; M I-22, 23, 24).
Jean Adhémar. Honoré Daumier. Paris, , pp. 50, 121, no. 85, ill., calls it "Les Deux buveurs"; dates it both 1860 (p. 50) and about 1856 (p. 121); asserts that Baudelaire pressed Daumier to illustrate a subject from his poems and suggests that this picture was inspired by "Vin des chiffonniers" in "Les Fleurs du mal," noting that a manuscript for the poem was found among Daumier's papers; observes the influence of Gavarni's lithographs.
K. E. Maison inDaumier: Paintings and Drawings. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. [London], 1961, p. 35, no. 45, pl. 22E.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 39–40, ill., note that it may date "a few years before" its first exhibition in 1861; call the version formerly in the Fiquet collection "probably a copy of this picture"; note its similarity to a lithograph by Gavarni published in "Le Charivari" on February 23, 1842.
Robert Rey. Honoré Daumier. New York, , pp. 32, 104–5, ill. (color), dates it about 1856; notes that when Daumier was unable to sell this painting he gave it to Daubigny; repeats Adhémar's (1954) assertion that it illustrates verses from Baudelaire's "Vin des chiffonniers".
K. E. Maison. Honoré Daumier: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolours, and Drawings. Vol. 1, The Paintings. Greenwich, Conn., 1968, p. 199, no. II-30, pl. 191, categorizes it among paintings with extensive restorations; considers Adhémar's [Ref. 1954] date of c.1856 for this picture to be too late; comments that the supposed association with Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du Mal" is "very far-fetched"; does not believe that the former Fiquet collection version is genuine.
Gabriele Mandel inL'opera pittorica completa di Daumier. Milan, 1971, p. 101, no. 155, ill., dates it after 1858.
Richard Thomson. "The Drinkers of Daumier, Raffaëlli and Toulouse-Lautrec: Preliminary Observations on a Motif." Oxford Art Journal no. 2 (April 1979), pp. 29–31, 33, ill., states that the picture "must have been painted shortly before it was first exhibited at Martinet's gallery in 1861"; rejects the suggestion that this picture illustrates Baudelaire's "Vin des chiffoniers," noting that Baudelaire gave Daumier the manuscript of the poem before 1851 [see Ref. Adhémar 1954].
Pierre Cabanne. Honoré Daumier: Témoin de la comédie humaine. [Paris], 1999, ill. p. 143 (color), as "Les deux buveurs," 1858.
Michael Pantazzi inDaumier, 1808–1879. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa, 1999, pp. 460–61, 472, 555, no. 303, ill. (color, reversed), dates it about 1858–60; doubts the connection with Baudelaire's poem, which describes a single drunkard on a crowded street; disagrees with Maison's [Ref. 1968] assessment of this painting's restoration, calling it "in fairly good condition".
Richard R. Brettell and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. Ed. Sara Campbell. Vol. 1, New Haven, 2006, p. 129.