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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Les chiffonniers (The Ragpickers)

Charles Joseph Travies de Villers

Les chiffonniers (The Ragpickers) - Charles Joseph Travies de Villers

19th century
© Roger-Viollet

View this work in the exhibition Les Chiffonniers

The artist

Charles-Joseph Traviès de Villers, known simply as Traviès, was born near Zurich in 1804. He soon moved to Paris. A student of Fine Arts, his painting was not a critical success. A Saint-Simonian and Fourierist (French Utopian Socialist philosophies), he took an interest in politics and used his artistic skills to draw caricatures for the press, notably in the periodical Le Charivari.

His caricatures went down very well, but a law introduced by Louis-Philippe in 1835 banned political caricatures. Traviès then devoted himself to genre scenes, with a preference for portraying ordinary people. Charles Baudelaire said of him: "His muse is a neighborhood nymph, ashen-faced and melancholy. (...) Traviès has a profound sense of the joys and sorrows of the ordinary people; he is familiar with the lower classes, and we can say that he felt a charitable affection for them. That is the reason why his Scènes bachiques will remain a remarkable work. What's more his ragpickers are generally very lifelike."

He produced several illustrations for Balzac's La Comédie Humaine.

He died in Paris in 1859.