Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Carol Armstrong

Committee Members

Jane Mayo Roos

Diane Kelder

Janis Bergman-Carton

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


A complicated relationship between painting and caricature emerged in France in the 1850s and 1860s when writers like Baudelaire and Champfleury, who were known for their work on painting and painters, produced a number of texts focusing on caricature and caricaturists. Such writings legitimized imagery previously relegated to the realm of "low art" by declaring caricature integral to the aesthetic discourses of the nineteenth century.

The legitimization of caricature also involved a concurrent effort by artists like Honore Daumier, Gustave Courbet, and Paul Cezanne, who incorporated caricatural elements within their painted works. Rather than adopting the traditional strategy of marginalizing their caricatural interests by keeping such endeavors private, these artists integrated painting and caricature—essentially making "painted caricatures." These "painted caricatures" redefined a sometimes oppositional relationship between painters and caricaturists established in the press through decades of visual and verbal caricaturing of Salon exhibitors and their works. When painters appropriated the formal terms used to poke fun at their works, they responded to and extended an aesthetic dialogue carried on in the language of caricature to the point where this very language became the subject of their painted discourse. That discourse, which is comprised of the "painted caricatures" produced by French painters from 1850 to 1880, is the subject of this dissertation.

Focusing on the "painted caricatures" of Daumier, Courbet and Cezanne, I argue that painters who employed the formal language of caricature necessarily associated their paintings with the issues integral to the practice of printed caricature in the period—issues including censorship, political and social criticism, and the blurring of artistic boundaries. I also consider the ways in which "painted caricature" is a distinctly modern phenomenon, noting that the criticism that underscores the process of caricaturing becomes a more viable option in a post-Revolutionary era when Republicanism is alternately a possibility and a reality. Finally, in highlighting the unstable boundary between caricature and other forms of distortion, exaggeration, and manipulation that are part and parcel of much twentieth-century avant-garde production, I argue the significance of "painted caricature" to our understanding of the formation of modernist painting.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.