François-Auguste Biard exhibition at the Maison Victor Hugo until 11th April 2021

As soon as the Maison Victor Hugo reopens – looking gorgeous after an 18-month, 4.7 million euro restoration – the museum (and as you probably guessed former home of Victor Hugo) will be hosting a new retrospective of work by painter-traveller FrançoisAuguste Biard (1799-1882).

François-Auguste Biard exhibition at the Maison Victor Hugo until 11th April 2021

We have Biard to thanks for the first ever painting of an aurora borealis, and his life story is as interesting as his art – after gaining huge popularity in the first half of the 19th century, his fame waned to such a point that his name is no longer well-known at all.

Back in the 19th century, travel was not an option for everyone, and parts of the world still remained to be discovered. Images from painter-travellers like Biard fired the collective imagination, with scenes of savage nature, unknown tribes and exotic palaces all very popular subjects.

François-Auguste Biard exhibition at the Maison Victor Hugo until 11th April 2021
© Muséees de Poitiers / Christian Vignaud

For this exceptional exhibition, around 80 of Biard’s paintings are being shown together, with a presentation in six parts:

The Man, portraits and self portraits

The voyage to Spitzberg and Lapland (1839), with almost every large-format painting from the trip

Typical scenes, everyday life and country scenes, often quite amusing

Painter of the seas… and shipwrecks. Biard was an official painter of the navy

Slavery, several paintings on the subject, dating from the years 1830-60

Voyage to Brazil, works inspired by Biard’s voyage in 1858

François-Auguste Biard exhibition at the Maison Victor Hugo until 11th April 2021
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Tony Querrec

Linked with the exhibition there are:

— four commented visits in French, called ‘Contes de la glace et du soleil‘ (7€ / 5€ on top of the entrance price)

quatre autres visites contées – ‘mémoire des hommes, parole d’esclaves’ (7€ / 5€ on top of the entrance price)

audiodescription visits for the blind or visually impaired, and others with lip reading for the deaf or hard of hearing…

François-Auguste Biard exhibition at the Maison Victor Hugo until 11th April 2021
© Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Enguerran Ouvray

French speakers can also prepare their visit by listening to an hour-long radio program about Biard, created by France Culture.

And below are some 2-3 minute stories painting a quick portrait of the artist.

The exhibition François-Auguste Biard – Peintre voyageur will be at the Maison Victor Hugo (here) until 11th April 2021

Open (after the confinement) every day except Mondays from 10am-6pm (8pm Fridays)

Admission: 9€ / 7€ / free for under-18s

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