Victor Hugo: House, Museum, and Art Exhibition

Victor Hugo: House, Museum, and Art Exhibition.

French author Victor Hugo, noted for his novels The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) and Les Miserables (1862), lived in Paris from 1832-1851, before his exile to Guernsey. His home is now a museum. The living quarters are on the second floor and the museum of his paintings and works occupies the first floor. 

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) is considered to be one of the greatest and best-known French writers. He was born in eastern France and arrived in Paris at the age of thirty. 

Hugo lived in Guernsey in exile from 1855-1870, after first going to Brussels then Jersey. He returned to Paris in 1870. He had five children. His wife Adèle Foucher died in 1868 and his mistress Juliette Drouet died in 1883. Hugo’s last written words, two days before his death in 1885 of pneumonia at the age of 83, are said to be:

“To love is to act.”

The rooms of his home are grand and luxurious. They are separated by their colour – the green room, the red damask lounge, etc. Many items are from his other residences when he was in exile.

Of interest is his writing desk, and his bed where he died.

There is also a large collection of his autographs and family letters, but also letters from other writers, artists, actors, and politicians, such as Dumas, George Sand Alfred de Vigny, Baudelaire, and Sarah Bernhardt. There are also love letters to and from Léonie Biard and Juliette Drouet. 

In the Victor Hugo museum, there is currently an exhibition, from 10 June to 21 November 2021, called Dans L’Intimité du Genie – In the Intimacy of Genius – which includes his paintings, drawings, engravings, and artwork. 

There is a section dedicated to his friendship with Célestin Nanteuil, showing the artistic influences between the two men. Juliette Drouet had the largest collection of Victor Hugo’s works. He took summer trips with her and set up an art studio in her living room in 1850 so that he could paint – these works are said to be his best masterpieces. In the latter period of his life, he painted witches and demons. 

He produced more than 4,000 drawings, mainly in dark brown or black pen-and-ink wash. Many of his artworks are in hand-painted wooden frames, which are artworks themselves.

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