Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College

The Human Comedy: Chronicles of 19th-Century France

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Les sous-sols

Les sous-sols

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879) Les sous-sols (Basement Dwellers), 1856 Lithograph Gift of Eugene L. Garbaty, 1954.166

Paris experienced a housing crisis during Haussman-nization, as thousands of dwellings were demolished and new, more expensive ones were built in their place. Low-income workers and pensioners like this one were forced to accept whatever lodgings they could find—including tiny at-tic apartments and dark, damp basements. Daumier produced a number of prints depicting the good humor and creativity of the destitute and displaced seeking shelter in trees, kiosks, and even doghouses.

— Eh ! bien, monsieur Gendrouillet, comment vous trouvez-vous dans votre nouveau logement ? … - Mais, pas trop mal ... sauf les rhumatismes et les cham-pignons.

— Well, Mr. Gendrouillet, how are you getting along in your new lodgings? — Oh, not too badly... except for the rheumatism and the mush-rooms.