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L'Homme Ocean
October 3, 2010 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Most are familiar with Victor Hugo the author, but perhaps you are not acquainted with Victor Hugo the illustrator. Delacroix wrote that Hugo would have been among the greatest artists of the 19th century if not for his writing habit. He made thousands of drawings in sketchbooks, margins, and letters, but they are surprisingly difficult to find in good quality. Here are a hundred.

Some highlights, in case you don't feel like going through them all:

Altvies, 1871
Le phare de Casquets, 1866
Ville rhénane, 1850
La Souris (Velmich), 1840
Vieux bourg dans l'orage, 1837
Souvenir d'une vieille maison de Blois, 1864
Ombra Mei, 1852

And here's an open directory. There are far more out there but this was too rich a source not to share.
posted by BlackLeotardFront (18 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Victor Hugo is incredibly fascinating, both as a writer and a person. I highly recommend Graham Robb's Victor Hugo biography.
posted by Kattullus at 11:56 PM on October 3, 2010


Amazing. Thank you! I suppose it's only natural that he had a thing for the gothic, but some of that's more than a little dark.
posted by Ahab at 12:04 AM on October 4, 2010


Thank you. These are wonderful.
posted by bardophile at 1:37 AM on October 4, 2010


Holy shit. These are incredible. Thank you so much!! They all seem to be landscapes thus far - anyone found any still lifes or figures?
posted by smoke at 2:47 AM on October 4, 2010


What a treasure trove. Thanks. A few I liked: village l chateau l
in letters.

Not many figures: one.

Another, smaller collection with some excellent images.
posted by nickyskye at 3:35 AM on October 4, 2010


I am told Victor Hugo was a madman who dreamed he was Victor Hugo.

These excellent drawings confirm it.
posted by Wolof at 3:38 AM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice find. Today's pat/buff of Rodin's Hugo bust will have a special meaning.
posted by carsonb at 3:54 AM on October 4, 2010


Very interesting. It might be worth remembering that in France he still enjoys the reputation of a great poet whereas in the rest of Europe he's mainly remembered as a novelist or even as the author of Les Misérables (and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the reputation of that one is buttressed by the musical).
posted by ersatz at 4:17 AM on October 4, 2010


Beautiful. It almost looks like Hugo took preexisting ink-stained paper and then reinforced whatever shapes he saw inside the blotches. He has a solid mastery of atmosphere.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:34 AM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why people become famous authors (from the WSJ review of Robert Gottlieb's new biography of the actress Sarah Bernhardt):

She [Bernhardt] made a habit of seducing her leading men in their dressing rooms. She upgraded to literary eminences—"kiss me," she demanded of the aged Victor Hugo, "on the mouth!" (He was 70, she 27.)
posted by Faze at 4:45 AM on October 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


These are great. I particularly like the ones where VICTOR HUGO is writ large in the foreground. That about seems to capture the man.

I would also second Kattullus's recommendation of the Graham Robb biography. Graham Robb's bios of French authors of the 19th century, in general, are quite good.
posted by OmieWise at 4:58 AM on October 4, 2010


These drawings would be appropriate in any good RPG manual. Which, considering his other works, seems proper.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:01 AM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gorgeous.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:43 AM on October 4, 2010


Oh, marvelous!

Also, thanks to Kattullus and OmieWise for the recommendation of Graham Robb. I'm always on the hunt for solid 19thc biographies.
posted by catlet at 6:59 AM on October 4, 2010


The other one I've read in depth is his bio of Balzac, but he's also got ones about Baudelaire & Rimbaud.
posted by OmieWise at 7:43 AM on October 4, 2010


Vindaloo: "These drawings would be appropriate in any good RPG manual. Which, considering his other works, seems proper."

It's called "Romanticism". Most RPG players probably don't know much about it, but that's what it is they are doing, in a sort of low brow pop culture way.
posted by stbalbach at 9:27 AM on October 4, 2010


Really great. There's a book of Hugo's drawings called Shadows of a Hand. I scanned some images from it here.
posted by ajourneyroundmyskull at 2:47 PM on October 4, 2010


OmieWise: The other one I've read in depth is his bio of Balzac, but he's also got ones about Baudelaire & Rimbaud.

I've read the one about Rimbaud, it's equally great.
posted by Kattullus at 11:39 PM on October 4, 2010


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