|Artist:||Honoré Daumier||Mike Tooby, Director of Learning and Programmes|
|Title:||The Night Walkers|
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Oil on board, 11 1/2 x 7 3/8 inches (29.1 x 18.9 cm)
Purchased by Gwendoline Davies, 1912
National Museum Wales; Miss Gwendoline E. Davies
Bequest, 1951 (NMWA 2452)
Courtesy American Federation of Arts
A French Realist painter, Honoré Daumier also worked widely in the graphic arts. The Night Walkers is thought to be one of Daumier’s earliest works in oil. The definition of detail through line rather than tone and color hints at the artist’s unfamiliarity with the medium. The subject of the painting is very enigmatic. While the dress of the two figures suggests differing social positions, there is no clue as to their relationship. The suggestion that the two figures bear some resemblance to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza is not entirely implausible, given Daumier’s later artistic preoccupation with Cervantes’s picaresque novel. An interest in moonlit scenes pervaded European Romanticism at the time and is a theme Daumier explored in earlier lithographs. Infrared photography has shown that this work originally featured a single figure in the center of the canvas—the head was placed next to the head of the left-hand walker—and the form is still just visible.