Current Events, No. 385: Ever since Mr. Babinet had announced that the sun might disappear from one moment to the next, the Parisians are taking all necessary precautions, even at mid-day.
Honoré Daumier ( French, 1808 - 1879 )
In a scene that appears to take place on a Paris street in the middle of the afternoon, a portly gentleman and an older lady carry candle-lit lanterns. The episode recalls a contemporary news event surrounding the prediction by French astronomer Jacques Babinet (1794–1872) that a comet would extinguish the sun and then hit the earth on June 13, 1857. The caption refers to Babinet, a physicist, astronomer, and gifted orator whose articles became especially popular with a broad readership. While it is unclear whether Daumier believed in the comet’s doomsday potential, most citizens took the prediction seriously. This print, from the series Current Events, was published in Le Charivari on April 10, 1857. Themes in the series feature complacent, corpulent members of the bourgeoisie responding to the harmless topics of everyday life.
Martha MacLeod, DMA label copy, 2016.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Read a biography of Daumier from the NGA.