Honore Daumier was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter and sculptor, whose many works offered commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. He was perhaps best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behavior of his countrymen, although posthumously the value of his painting has also been recognized.
The genre paintings of Daumier were mostly depicting his personal experiences. The Third-Class Carriage recorded the painter's riding experience when going out. In the crowed narrow space, three characters in the front row was specially described and the behind group of people was only summarized. Separation of seat backs was the most common phenomenon in life, revealing a French social hierarchy. Third-class carriage was full of citizens who were in the bottom of society.
Among the three main characters, the most prominent was the wrinkled old woman. From her looks, people could see her life experience. A sleepy youth and a mother with a baby leaned on her. Their appearance clearly showed their social status. The back people reflected different statuses and personalities according to their different appearances. This limited space became a microcosm of the lower class in France.
The painting seemed to not only represent the short journey of life, but also symbolized the long life road. Different people had different expressions, and they had different experience in their own life road. In such kind of works, there was no humor and no sarcasm, only the serious expression of the painter's concerns for fate of the working people. Daumier's paintings often had smooth contour and print's features.