For a long time, all Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) meant to me were the prints in my father’s office. Like many of his fellow physicians, at least the cultivated ones with leftist pedigrees from the 1930s, my father had a small group of Daumier’s savage comments on the nineteenth-century medical profession on display. (If he had been a lawyer, like some of my school friends’ parents, they would have been the caricatures of judges and barristers; dentists, for some reason, favored dancers and pensive young women—working-class, of course— by the Soyer brothers.) As a child I didn’t like the images much, and I was puzzled by how they were always described as “real” when they were so clearly cut from some magazine or newspaper. I recall, too, struggling with the captions, full of odd contractions that I’d never seen in my French books and words that, even when I could find them in the Larousse,...

 
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