Skip Navigation

The Legislative Belly (Le Ventre législatif)

Honoré Daumier

European Art

The approximately four thousand lithographic caricatures that Honoré Daumier produced were widely circulated in nineteenth-century Paris, where they were appreciated for their sharp satire of contemporary life. A critic of the French monarchy, Daumier often found himself at odds with contemporary censorship laws, serving time in jail in 1832 for ridiculing the French king Charles X. The Legislative Belly, which appeared in the monthly series issued by L’Association Mensuelle, skewers the corrupt conservative members of the Chamber of Deputies, highlighting their bulging stomachs and sneering faces.

Daumier’s works in other mediums reflect his training as a lithographer. The black, sweeping curves of the pompous lawyers’ robes in his watercolor The Two Colleagues call to mind his handling of the lithographic crayon in his prints. In the double-sided drawing Head of an Old Woman in Profile; Study of Heads, he worked in fluid, economic lines to evoke the physiognomies of the Parisian working-class figures that frequently appeared in his images of third-class railway carriages.


Titus Kaphar: These are so playful, they kind of fool you into thinking that they’re not as serious as they are, which I think, to some degree, is the power of the piece itself. It sneaks up on you.

MEDIUM Lithograph on wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES January 1834
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 12 x 17 13/16 in. (30.5 x 45.2 cm) Image: 11 x 17 1/16 in. (27.9 x 43.3 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed, lower right in stone: "h. Daumier"
    INSCRIPTIONS Lower left: "Chez Aubert, galerie véro dodat."; lower center: "LE VENTRE LÉGISLATIF./Aspect des bancs ministériels de la chambre improstituée de 1834."; lower right: "L. de Becquet, rue Furstemberg, 6" Aspect des bancs ministériels de la chambre improstituée de 1834."
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 52.90.3
    CREDIT LINE Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
    This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement. You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact copyright@brooklynmuseum.org.
    CAPTION Honoré Daumier (French, 1808-1879). The Legislative Belly (Le Ventre législatif), January 1834. Lithograph on wove paper, Sheet: 12 x 17 13/16 in. (30.5 x 45.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund, 52.90.3 (Photo: , 52.90.3_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 52.90.3_PS9.jpg., 2019
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.