Hugo Is Front Page News

13 septembre 20187 au 6 janvier 2019


For the first time, the Maison de Victor Hugo presents an exhibition focusing on Victor Hugo's public image as conveyed by caricatures. Victor Hugo's fame and his political commitment made the writer a favorite subject for contemporary caricaturists, who often portrayed him harshly and even with ferocity. Among these draftsmen, we find the prestigious signatures of Daumier, Gustave Doré, Cham, Gill, Lepetit, Nadar and Roubaud.

Visitors to the Maison de Victor Hugo are invited to discover a selection of over 150 caricatures (from a collection of more than 300 works) that follow a chronological pathway divided into four major periods, from 1830 to the poet's funeral in May 1885.
This graphic journey through his work and political commitments will shed light on the poet's growing importance in French society. It will also serve as a tribute to newspapers and to the draftsmen who, with their extraordinarily acute powers of observation and artistic talent, fully demonstrate their bite, their irony and, sometimes, their restraint.

Exhibition layout
Headstrong Hugo - 1830-1848: The main features that characterize Hugo up to his exile, a small body, large head, immense forehead and hair pushed toward the back, were invented notably by Benjamin Roubaud.
General detestation - 1848-1852: Victor Hugo's foray into politics is very negatively perceived by the caricaturists, who mock his ambition, his emphatic speeches and the power he is thought to yield through his access to L’Evénement, a newspaper. The tone will change as Hugo distances himself from the conservative clan and becomes part of the opposition.
The invisible celebrity - 1852-1870: Censors prohibit mentioning the name of Victor Hugo or portraying him until the middle of the Second Empire. However, he is evoked through the works he wrote in exile: The Legend of the Ages, Les Misérables, Toilers of the Sea and The Man Who Laughs. He appears with a beard, and the caricaturist's pen is more respectful
Hugophobia and Hugolatry - 1870-1885: Almost universally hailed after his return from exile, the author of Châtiments (Punishments), a collection of poems which had at last been published openly, is the object of reverence bordering on the hagiographic. His attitude during the Commune and his support for the communards who had been massacred or condemned trigger a new round of ferocious caricatures. His final years correspond to the apotheosis of the cult of "venerable Hugo".

Press area
Accessibility's exhibition:
- Visitors with a disability
- Deaf and hearing impaired
- People experiencing mental disability
Ticket website:
Ticket access
Give your opinion