Intimacy Depicted: Drawings by Victor Hugo

On 27 September 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

After 18 months of renovation, Victor Hugo's house in Paris duly has welcomed its first visitors with a presentation focusing on the "great man" from a more personal angle.

Victor Hugo (1802-1880), Paysage aux trois arbres ou Ecce Lex (Landscape with three trees or Ecce Lex), 1854.
Paris Musées/Maisons de Victor Hugo Paris-Guernesey

Here the idea is to explore Hugo's relationship with drawing from an intimate perspective, and show that although he drew for almost fifty years, he did so mainly for himself and his close circle. Visitors can explore nearly 200 works on paper divided into four thematic sections, and appreciate the imagination of a genius whose creative sphere went far beyond writing.

Selected from an exceptional collection of 700 pieces, his drawings reveal his personality and capture various moments in his life. The sketches brought back from his summer escapades are little gems speaking of love and friendship, with Juliette Drouet (also his most assiduous collector) as the vibrant focus. With his dark castles drawn at twilight in black ink and charcoal, Hugo constantly honed his technique by making play with the different densities of matter, expressing all their poetry. His convictions were always in evidence, in his illustrations of poverty—the source of inspiration for Les Misérables—and his fascinating portraits of judges, executioners, witches and onlookers in Poème de la sorcière (The Poem of the Witch—his last great cycle), which illustrate his fervent opposition to the death penalty. This last section is eloquently entitled "Humanity as a Studio".

Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris IVe
Until November 21, 2021
http://www.maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr
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