The Laundress (Daumier)

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The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse)
Honoré Daumier - The Washerwoman - WGA05957.jpg
Artist Honoré Daumier
Year c.1863
Type Oil on panel
Dimensions 49 cm × 33.5 cm (19 in × 13.2 in)
Location Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The Laundress (La Blanchisseuse) (also known in English as The Washerwoman) is an oil-on-panel painted by French artist Honoré Daumier in 1863. It is currently held and exhibited at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.


Acquired by the Louvre in 1927 and since 1986 exhibited at the Musée d'Orsay,[1] this painting has another two versions, currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery of Buffalo, New York.

Daumier lived on the Quai d'Anjou on the Île Saint-Louis, and had plenty of opportunities for observing the attitudes of the washerwomen returning from the lavoir on the Seine, as they wearily climbed the stone steps, bent beneath the weight of their bundles of washing. Nevertheless, there is a strength as well as fatigue expressed in the body of this mature woman, accompanied by her child, whom there is evidently nobody to mind at home. The summary handling of the paint avoids any suggestion of anecdote and gives a monumental quality to this little picture.

As said, Daumier painted several variations on this theme: numerous replicas of them exist, some apocryphal. The Louvre-acquired work appears, according to critics, to be far the best. One of them – under the title Blanchisseuse – was exhibited by the painter at the Salon of 1861.[2]


  1. ^ Cf. Overview on Musée d'Orsay website
  2. ^ A stated by the respective Museum, l'une (Maison, vol.1, n°84, Mandel, n°104), exposée au Salon de 1861, [1]

See also[edit]


A replica of The Laundress, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Lejeune Robert, Honoré Daumier, Lausanne (1953)
  • Maison K.-E., Honoré Daumier, Catalogue raisonné of the paintings, watercolors and drawings, London (1968)
  • Mandel Gabriele, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Daumier, Paris (1972) (in French)
  • Compin Isabelle – Roquebert Anne, Catalogue sommaire illustré des peintures du Musée du Louvre et du Musée d'Orsay, Paris (1986) (in French)
  • Compin Isabelle – Lacambre Geneviève (eds)- Musée d'Orsay. Catalogue sommaire illustré des peintures, Paris (1990) (in French)

External links[edit]