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Modern art

François-Auguste Biard. Travelling painter

45 min visit

Victor Hugo House
19 May → 30 Jul 2021
From Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed Monday.

« A virtual retrospective, a challenge taken up by the Maison Victor Hugo in Paris! »

Unfortunately, this exhibition was not held because of two closures... In order not to miss it completely, the curator Vincent Gille offers you a guided tour of the museum in his company! Little known to the general public, François-Auguste Biard is a singular painter. Very observant, he trained alone in a wallpaper workshop in Lyon before being exhibited at the 1833 Salon. Even though he took courses at the Lyon Fine Arts School, he established himself mainly on his own. His genre scenes and portraits brought him great success! However, the painter was more of a wanderer than an academic. Indeed, he travelled all over the world, which he transcribed onto his canvases. From 1839 onwards he went on expeditions to the sparsely populated areas of the northern hemisphere, where he managed to capture the sumptuousness of the landscapes. His wife, Léonie d'Aunet, accompanied him on his scenic expedition to the Norwegian island of Spitzbergen, but also to Belgium, Holland and other northern countries. She was Victor Hugo's mistress for seven years, an affair that was interrupted when the writer was forced into exile in 1851. In 1859, Biard went to Brazil for two years. Like a naturalist and ethnologist, he collected the Brazilian fauna and flora and painted the Indian tribes, which he observed very closely. During his travels, he took notes that never left him. His painting is at first sight classical and academic: even if he paints exotic landscapes, Biard executes them with a meticulousness that testifies to his training in Lyon, even if he is self-taught. We find certain codes of the Lyon School of Fine Arts: detailed landscapes, dense colours etc. As for his pronounced taste for exoticism, it is characteristic of a Dutch, German or English influence. But his original compositions, sometimes too humorous, do not please everyone! However, his painting is strongly human and poetic. If at the time it did not please everyone, it now fits perfectly into the spirit of the times. The virtual tour presents 20 of the 80 works originally exhibited. And if you want to go further, a podcast and an article are dedicated to the exhibition on the Maisons Victor Hugo website!


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