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Victor Hugo Collection at Christie's

editorial & artculture & photo…

29 February 2012
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On the occasion of the 210th birthday of Victor Hugo, Christie' s has the honour to announce the sale of The Collection Hugo, who will take place on April 4th this year. Composed of an important group of about 500 pounds, painting, drawings, engravings, pieces of furniture and other personal objects, it also contains a broad selection of about fifty photographs, this medium who will become a true revelation for Victor Hugo and his family. The collection constitutes great one evidence of the life of Victor Hugo and of his descendants, Charles, George and Jean. Estimated around a million euro, this sale will allow to the public to discover this famous family across four generations. 

In the course of his banishment with Stocking stitch, Victor Hugo discovers photography. In 1852, it makes acquaintance with Edmund Bacot (1814-1875). This one nourishes the same republican sympathies as it and, very quickly, numerous exchanges enriched with plates settle between both figures. So, Victor Hugo sat by face, a hand slipped inside the jacket captured by Edmont Bacot in 1862 is introduced in sale (estimate: 1.000-1.500, illustrated to the right).

In one of this correspondence, Victor Hugo announces in Bacot of the interest of his elder son Charles for the photograph: « You send me, Mister, of marvels. We admire them until we can imitate them. My son, who would like to follow you, it should be only from far away, asks you a well itemized written lesson ». Two original books, called Photograph on paper. Gone about things on ice (Stocking stitch, May, 1853) and containing interesting descriptions of photographic techniques, result from this introduction (estimate: 8.000 and 12.000 euro, illustrated above). Encouraged by his father, Charles learns fast to control this new medium. The discovery of the photograph is a revelation for Victor Hugo, who is already interested in picture across the drawings. It understands that it is of great one tool there to show its banishment and promote its political firm belief.

In what they call then « the workshop of Stocking stitch », an important photographic production is so thrown. Assisted by the poet and French journalist Augustus Vaquerie (1819-1895), Charles accomplishes from 1852 till 1856 of numerous instantaneous immortalizing the life of Hugo. Among these, four portraits on paper of Victor Hugo, accomplished between 1853 and 1855 (in a lot: estimate €4.000-6.000), and a portrait of Adèle Hugo, the sister of Charles, considered between 9.000 and 12.000 euro (to be illustrated to the left) will be introduced by auction, as well as a series of 24 tests (estimate: €5.000-7.000), representing numerous anglo-Norman landscapes.

The collection also offers a group of plates accomplished by other photographers just like two portraits of Victor Hugo. The one by Félix Nadar (1820-1910), Victor Hugo the crossed hands leaned on elbows on a table, captured in 1862 (estimate: €3.000-4.000, illustrated to the right), and other one by Steven Carjat (1828-1906), Portrait of Victor Hugo in torso of face accomplished in 1872 (estimate: €3.000-4.000). Steven Carjat and Félix Nadar, big portraitists of the XIXth century, accomplished some of the nicest portraits of the writer, whose important broadcasting will contribute to its notability. Madam Victor Hugo in Guernesey in the garden of aloes, 1853-1855 shows madam Victor Hugo, immortalized by Augustus Vacquerie (estimate: €1.000-1.500) tandis the Double portrait of Juliet Drouet, accomplished by the brothers Guemar, in 1868 shows Juliet Drouet (teacher of Victor Hugo during almost 50 years) (estimate: €1.000-1.500).