« La Tour des rats »

  • Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)

  • 28,5 x 44,8 cm
  • [1840] 1847
  • Pen and brown ink wash over graphite pencil, black ink and charcoal on vellum paper
  • MVHP D 0012
  • Paris, Maison de Victor Hugo Don Paul Meurice en 1903

It was at the end of Letter XX and Letter XXII in the Rhin (1842) that Victor Hugo referred at length to the Maüsethrum or Tour des rats (Tower of rats) near Bingen, which had fascinated him since childhood. An engraving representing the monument hung in his bedroom. The description by Hugo combines a dreamlike visit to the tower and the legend of the Archbishop of Mainz, Hatto. Hatto had burnt the city’s poor people alive, whereupon his victims, transformed into rats, forced him to take refuge in the tower which was located on an island in the Rhine. There they ate him. La Tour des Rats is one of the most important drawings among those inspired by Victor Hugo’s trips to the Rhine. Although the drawing bears the date of his stay in Bingen, Jean Gaudon and Pierre Georgel propose the date of 1847 for this sketch which does not fit into the series of other studies of the tower, which were carried out on site. It also differs in style. The drawing is characteristic of the visionary reinterpretations Hugo would make of its travel memories.
Offered as a present to Juliette Drouet, this drawing was part of the collection belonging to her nephew Louis Koch which was acquired by Paul Meurice to be given to the museum when it was created in 1903.

Notice's author : Gérard Audinet