Honoré Daumier was a prolific artist and devout humanist. At a time when France was enmeshed in civic turmoil, Daumier thrived in an underground society of artists who questioned contemporary political and social mores. His strong social conscience led him to create caricatures of corrupt politicians, swindlers, and dubious rascals. However, censorship laws passed in September 1835 forced him to move away from making overtly satirical works. Instead, Daumier began to focus on less controversial subjects. The expansion of the railroads throughout France provided him with numerous opportunities to examine diverse groups of travelers thrown together by chance, especially during his frequent trips to join Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and other artists in northern France. Despite its sketch-like appearance, The Waiting Room is actually quite carefully structured. One large, seemingly anxious figure at the left foreground balances the receding row of seated dark figures who wait patiently. Daumier’s meticulous technique of slowly layering pigment and glaze gives his figures a tactile, sculptural quality.
Label from Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860–1910, November 15, 2015–March 20, 2016