The Laundress

Honoré Daumier French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 802

This painting depicts a subject visible from Daumier’s studio on the quai d'Anjou in Paris: laundresses returning from laundry boats moored on the Seine. Despite the weight of her bulky load, the woman tenderly extends her hand to help a child up the steps of the embankment. With her sturdy form silhouetted against a bright background, the humble worker acquires a certain monumentality. This picture is the largest and possibly the last of three painted versions of the composition; Daumier’s pigments have deteriorated, obscuring the last digit of the date inscribed at the lower left, but in 1893 it was recorded as 1863.

The Laundress, Honoré Daumier (French, Marseilles 1808–1879 Valmondois), Oil on oak

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