xi's moments
Home | Cultural Exchange

Museum celebrates Victor Hugo's passion for Chinese culture

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-06-24 08:42

PARIS-Victor Hugo is well-known around the world for his novels, but a simple visit to the famous French writer's Paris apartment allows his fans to discover some of his other sides: a painter, a photographer and an interior decorator with a taste for Chinese culture.

The apartment Hugo rented from 1832 to 1848 in Place des Vosges in central Paris, as well as his house on the Channel Island of Guernsey, now make up the Victor Hugo Museum, which showcases the writer's life and his various talents.

The famous Chinese Lounge in Hugo's Paris apartment is a good place to learn about a little-known aspect of his talent as a decorator.

Gerald Audinet, director of the Houses of Victor Hugo, Paris and Guernsey, says that Hugo decorated a living room in his Guernsey house for his companion Juliette Drouet. The Chinese Lounge was originally in that house.

Hugo and Drouet's appreciation of chinoiserie and Chinese material culture arose during a period in Europe when there was a passionate love for Chinese imports, particularly ceramics from Guangdong province, and the couple continued collecting chinoiserie even during their exile in Guernsey, according to Audinet.

According to him, Hugo used a lot of woodcarvings to decorate the Chinese Lounge. "Many of the Chinese decorations are carved in wood and painted with red and gold," Audinet says.

"Often, it was him who came up with the idea of decorating these carvings with patterns that he designed. ... He also often put the final details on the carvings," he adds.

Hugo also drew inspiration from lacquerware furniture, embroidered silks and Chinese plates. Hugo decorated Drouet's dining room with Chinese ceramics, so her guests could view and discuss them, Audinet says.

Audinet suggests that it was the difference between Chinese and European arts that attracted Hugo to chinoiserie.

To increase Hugo's influence in China, Audinet says that three exhibitions have been organized in recent years to present Hugo's life and works to the Chinese public.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349