Don't You Meddle with It

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“Center of Defiance”

He is an imposing and statuesque figure, the man in the middle. His fists clenched and his stance strong, he projects boldness. Behind him the words “LIBERTÉ DE LA PRESSE” appear. A group on either side of him, he stands. Three figures to his left and three to his right, almost mirror images of each other yet completely different in their motion and tone. All seven figures are presented against a background of nothing, the scene drops off making the figures stand out. This is Honoré Daumier’s Don’t You Meddle With It. In shades of black, white and grey, this small print’s composition implies a sense of Defiance in the main subject of the painting, the man in the middle. When looking at Daumier’s “Don’t You Meddle With It”, our eye immediately goes to the central figure, the largest, indicating importance. As we examine the rest of the print, his importance if confirmed. He is a French man, large in size and brawny in build. His stance is locked and his fists are clenched, denoting confidence in his action and even some kind of contempt or affront. He stands atop a piece of ground that curves and is cut off by the edge of the print. If the curve kept going, it might create a circle, with our man in the center of it. The curve on the ground also visually separates this man from the two other groups. Following the curve of the ground is the phrase, “LIBERTÉ DE LA PRESSE”. Our main figure’s proximity to the phrase implies that he is representing that idea. I do not speak French but I know that “liberté” means liberty and that the man is representing some form of liberty, most likely freedom of press (based on “la presse”); he is the face of an important democratic concept, thus cementing his significance. Status-wise, this man is of the working or lower class; he has a peasant-y blouse and an apron of some sort. He is muscular from labor, especially compared to the other figures who look slim and lanky. He is also portrayed in greater detail...
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