Le Wagon de troisième classe (c.1862-1864)

Daumier, Honoré (1808-1879)

Le Wagon de troisième classe (The Third-Class Carriage)
Oil on canvas, 65.4 x 90.2 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

As a graphic artist and painter, Daumier chronicled the impact of industrialization on modern urban life in mid-nineteenth-century Paris. Here, he amplifies the subject of a lithograph made some ten years earlier: the hardship and quiet fortitude of third-class railway travelers. Bathed in light, the nursing mother, elderly woman, and sleeping boy emanate a serenity not often associated with public transport. Unfinished and squared for transfer, this picture closely corresponds to a watercolor of 1864 (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore) and a roughly contemporary oil (National Gallery of CanadaOttawa), but the sequence of the compositions remains unresolved. (MET)