The Third-Class Carriage Related Works
- Date of Creation:
- Alternative Names:
- Le Wagon de troisième classe
- Height (cm):
- Length (cm):
- Art Movement:
- Created by:
- Current Location:
- New York, New York
- Displayed at:
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Third Class Carriage is one of a three-part series by Daumier. Read on to learn more about these paintings along with paintings of similar themes by other artists of this period.
The Second Class Carriage:
The Second Class Carriage is the second of the three-part series. Unlike the passengers in The Third-Class Carriage, they have been afforded the privacy of their own car. The Second Class Carriage seems brighter and more spacious. The commuters are closer to the window, which suggests being closer to the outside world, and therefore having more control over one's destiny. It is unknown whether the passengers are related; Daumier doesn't concern himself with depicting the life cycle of mankind in this drawing.
The passengers in this painting are better dressed than those in The Third-Class Carriage but from their huddled postures one can see that they are suffering from the cold. Also, they do not appear to be maintaining any psychological distance from each other, as would befit those from a higher class station. Out of this series of works, The Second Class Carriage is the only painting that appears to be finished. Perhaps Daumier was unconsciously signaling his comfort with the second-class. The people depicted here still look a little shabbily dressed but not nearly as badly as those in The Third Class Carriage. Their faces are certainly not as worn and they are given their own car rather than being forced to sit in the opposite direction from those in the first class.
The First Class Carriage:
The First Class Carriage is the rosiest picture of them all and it is as if Daumier were suggesting that life is rosier in first class. The pastel colors of the women's ribbons are particularly out of character for Daumier and his typical choice of color palette. As with The Third Class Carriage this painting appears incomplete. The passengers look serene and comfortable in their positions, particularly the lady on the left. It as if she knows that all she has to do in life is look mild-mannered and pretty to be taken care of. Of course, these passengers are the best dressed of all. They also have the most psychological distance inherent in their posture, and do not huddle together for warmth as those in the Second Class Carriage do. They are too well dressed to do need to do so, but they are also maintaining a psychological distance which befits their class level.
This is the only picture where the inhabitants do not seem to be suffering in some way. Indeed, this is the one picture that Daumier has imbued with a pastel color, particularly in the window where this is a sunny but not too sunny day. It is as if he is implying that when one rides in the first class carriage, life is always sunny. One notes the softness particularly in the women, who wear placid expressions and colored ribbons in their hair, as if they exist for decoration only. Those in The First Class Carriage are the feudal lords reworked: they probably own the factories in which their former peasants work. This series of paintings was inspired by the desire to accurately record the social and technological changes taking place all across France.
The Gleaners, 1857, Jean-Francois Millet:
In many ways, Daumier is considered the urban counterpart of Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875. ) Millet is known for his scenes of peasants and like Daumier, his paintings traverse both the Realist and Naturalist movements. In The Gleaners, the three peasant women figure prominently in the foreground as they stoop to gather - or, in the words of the time period, glean- the scraps left over from the wheat harvest. The women contrast heavily with the ground, but their posture also allows them to blend in with it. Their faces are obscured, which suggests one of two things or perhaps both: 1) the women are not worthy of paying attention to or having an identity or 2) their lack of identity makes them stand in for every woman.
Like with the majority of the occupants of The Third-Class Carriage, the subjects of The Gleaners are female. Perhaps that is because Millet wanted to emphasize the vulnerability of his subjects by portraying the so-called weaker sex. The wheat is displayed prominently in the background. The irony of one man guarding all that wealth while the peasants are forced to pick up the scraps is not lost on the viewer.
Like Daumier, Millet courted his fair share of controversy. Jean-Francois Millet unveiled The Gleaners to Parisian Society in 1857 and it immediately drew negative criticism from the middle and upper classes. They were suspicious of the topic: three peasant women scooping up grains after a harvest, a task that only a poor person would do.
Reactions to The Gleaners depended on how one felt towards the lower classes. One critic commented that the three gleaners "have gigantic pretensions, they pose as the Three Fates of Poverty, their ugliness and their grossness unrelieved. However the critic Liana Vardi was more sympathetic and wrote: "What does The Gleaners show? [The women] embody an animal force deeply absorbed by a painstaking task. The contrast between wealth and poverty, power and helplessness, male and female spheres is forcefully rendered."