Monday, July 19, 2010

Tonight On "The Bachelor": Daumier's Single Man

Previously on The Bachelor: In an unprecedented twist, M. Coquelet, our current little rooster, eliminated every eligible special someone. Though successful, sincere, emotionally secure, educated and accomplished, impressive, attractive and alluring, appropriately desperate (yet not suicidal), Britney, Tabitha, Amanda, Helene, Jennifer, Kristen, Brooke, Jessica, Tara, Sarah, Sadie, Tessa, Chelsea, Molly, and Vienna were each given their walking papers and left a trail of tears as the final credits rolled, each withheld rose a slap in the face.

There's just no pleasing some men.

And so in this episode of The Bachelor we follow M. Coquelet, smug and satisfied in his narrow little world, all alone with his pets, following his arid routine, and denying the loneliness that rises up when his guard is down.

It's boring television but the producers have put together a commemorative album to chronicle this sad affair of a man too stupid to know how empty his life is and blind to the solution just a single, long-stemmed rose away.


Plate One. 7 HEURES DU MATIN. Réveil de Mr. Coquelet. 
Minette et Azor se disputent le baiser paternel 
Mr. Coquelet souris à cette touchante rivalité. 
(Seven in the morning. Mr. Cockerel's Alarm Clock: 
Minette and Azor dispute Mr. Cockerel's paternal kiss as if rivals for a mouse).

La Journée du Célibataire (A Day in the Life of a Bachelor), a series of twelve lithographs by Honoré Daumier that originally appeared in Le Charivari between April 14 and September 15, 1839. (The pioneering days of early T.V.)

Plate Two. 8 HEURES DU MATIN. (Le ménage). Le spectacle de la nature
élève l'ame! M. Coquelet pour se délasser des soins du ménage, 
vient chercher à sa fenêtre le parfum des fleurs 
et le chant du.... serins. 
(Eight in the morning. ((Housekeeping). The spectacle of nature
elevates the soul! Mr. Cockerel relaxes in the household, 
just look at his window the scent of flowers 
and the song .... canaries.)

The series was soon published in black and white in a separate album offered for twelve Francs and in color for eighteen Francs. The album was printed by Chez Aubert and edited by print-seller  Chez Bauger, Paris, and advertised in Le Charivari on November 5, 1839.

Plate Three. Monsieur Coquelet resté célibataire par égoïsme partage 
son frugal déjeuner avec Azor et Minette. 
(Mr Cockerel remained in single selfishness, 
sharing his frugal lunch with Azor and Minette.)

There are no copies noted in OCLC or KVK. It is considered to be quite rare.

Plate Four. 10 HEURES DU MATIN. Mr. Coquelet ayant rencontré au jardin des 
Plantes Mlle Palissandre à laquelle il eût le bonheur d'offrir une rose 
pompon le 1er mai 1804, a obtenu un rendez vous, et s'etant mis en frais 
d'une paire de gantsa 29 sous, il jette un coup d'oeil à 
son miroir avant d'aller en bonne fortune. 
(Ten in the morning. Mr. Cockerel, having met Miss Rosewood at the 
Jardin des Plantes when he had the pleasure to offer a pink pompom 
on 1 May 1804, obtained an appointment, and takes pains to don a pair 
of gloves. He throws a glance in the mirror before going to good fortune.)

"Daumier is showing us the day and activities of a bachelor, in this case of Monsieur Coquelet. It starts with his waking up at seven in the morning and ends at 9 in the evening when he goes to bed...

Plate Five. 11 HEURES DU MATIN. Mr. Coquelet voulant offrir un bouquet 
de violette à Mlle. Palissandre, se reproche cette prodigalite: et lavant son 
mouchoir de ses propres mains, il rassure sa conscience au moyen de 
cette économie. 
(Eleven in the morning. Mr. Cockerel, wanting to offer a bunch of violets 
to Ms. Rosewood, blames himself for this extravagance and, washing his 
hands with his handkerchief,  he reassures his conscience through this economy.)

"Daumier had some experience with bachelorhood himself, since he married the seamstress Alexandrine Dassy only at the age of 31. In contrast to his fictitious personality, Monsieur Coquelet, he had however decided for marriage, while Coquelet lived a life of stinginess and loneliness, diligently avoiding any permanent relationship.

Plate Six. Sans doute Mr. Riflot le droit de pétition est sacré; mais on en abuse! 
témoin celle dont vous nous parlez: imposer les célibataires comme inutiles à 
la population ! j'en suis faché pour les gens mariés; mais s'il faut le dire il n'
en est aucun qui, plus que moi Coquelet, ait aidé à la population. 
(Doubtless Mr. Riflot, the right of petition is sacred, but it is abused! 
Witness what you mention: the unmarried as imposing unnecessarily 
to the population! I'm sorry for married people but none have done more than 
I, Cockerel, to keep the population down.)

"Daumier not only chastises the loneliness of his bachelor's existence but even more so his avarice and makes him appear ridiculous in his exaggerated affection for his pets, usually an over-fed dog, cat, canary or occasionally a plant on the window sill. With a somewhat melancholy smile, the reader recognizes these insufficient substitutes for real love and partnership and the waste led by a life diligently governed by a daily routine which starts at 7 in the morning and ends at 9 at night, leaving no room for personal deployment and deplores the waste of precious time" (Daumier Registry).

Plate Seven. UNE HEURE. Promenade au Luxembourg. Va gredin, 
avale z'en! tu verras ce que c'est que d'être jeté à l'eau 
par un comme toi!! 
(One in the afternoon. Walking in Luxembourg. Go Rogue, 
swallows mucha! You'll see what it's like to be thrown into the water 
by a p. .. p. .. p. .. pol ... is ... its like you!)

Plate Eight. 2 HEURES. Le gouter d'azor. Que voulez vous, mon cher: 
cette bête n'a que moi, vous, vous avez tout le monde. 
(Two in the afternoon. The taste of Azor. What do you want, my dear: 
this beast has only me; you, you have everybody.)

Plate Nine. TROIS HEURES. Monsieur Coquelet à la police correctionnelle, a
dmire cette institution qui met à l'abri des audacieuses entreprises d'êtres corrompus. 
(Three in the afternoon. Mr Cockerel, in the police court, admires 
the institution that protects from aggressive firms becoming corrupt).

Plate Ten. 5 HEURES DU SOIR. Mr. Coquelet vous êtes un être insociable: 
vous vous entendez avec votre chien; voila deux fois que j'en ai 149, 
il saute sur la table et il brouille tout. Votre chien est un compère!... 
et vous un vieux tricheur. 
(Five in the evening. Mr. Cockerel you're an unsociable being: 
you hear with your dog voila twice that I have 149, 
he jumps on the table and it confuses everything. Your dog is a gossip! ... 
and you an old cheater).

Plate eleven sees Coquelet at seven in the evening walking home. He meets a friend who tells him.... "A word! My dear, in all honor, a neighbor, 45 years, pleasant little widow, and the heart has nothing to do ....)." Coquelet keeps walking.

Plate twelve ends M. Coquelet's day at nine at night. "Mr. Cockerel extinguishes the light on a day that ends like the day before and  traces the exact picture of the single life!"

But, alas, M. Coquelet sleeps uneasily. His dreams take him to that dark place that awaits the old and alone, and, once secure in his prison of freedom, he is now experiencing a nightmare of loneliness and despair, no one to care for him, no one to love and be loved by. And, a single man has a lower life expectancy! Horreur! Terreur! Mon Dieu! Day breaks, and M. Coquelet understands the folly of his bachelor ways:

"I could have had Betty. I could have had Carole. 
Instead, I'm trapped in a ménage à trois from hell with me, myself, and I!
I made my bed and now I have to sleep in it, solitary in a fool's paradise!
Damn you to hell, Daumier! Damn you to hell!"

And so ends this episode of The Bachelor. 


Next week on The Bachelor: Brad, a precocious lil' satyr from Covina, California, plays the Pan pipes to a bevy of fine lil' dogies culled from a recent cattle call.

 Eligible, buff, and stylish. Yet unemployed. Who'll be the lucky lady?

DAUMIER, Honoré. La Journee du Celibataire. [Paris: Aubert & Cie, 1839].

First issue. Folio. Twelve  hand-colored lithograph plates, 13 5/8 x 10 7/16 in., (348 x 266 mm.), plate; 9 7/8 x 7 3/4 in. (250 x 197 mm.), image, heightened with gum arabic. Three edges gilt.

Daumier Registry 607-618.

Daumier images courtesy of David Brass.

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