Victor Hugo: Sepia and Shadows

It was once said that if Victor Hugo (1802-1885) had focused more of his attention on painting than on writing he would have been one of the greatest masters of his age. That said, he made several striking images while still being a giant of the French Romantic movement. During his life he covered a wide spectrum of religious and political views, and attended seances while in exile. While I still struggle with French much more than with my German, I feel that with enough Hugo under my belt I could have the final impetus to learn the language of this exceptional figure.

In terms of his art he was often playful, but dark, using coffee, sepia, and charcoal to achieve his desired effects. In “Octopus with the initials V.H.” you can see his initials made out of the octopus arms above its head. It was largely done using the sepia from cuttlefish, in a kind of homage to the creature that provided his colour of choice in many of his works.

Le Phare des Casquets, 1866.

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