François-Auguste Biard, the traveling painter: the virtual exhibition of the Victor Hugo’s House

Published by Cécile D. · Published on 26 April 2021 at 17h20 · Updated on 26 April 2021 at 17h29
Victor Hugo’s house gives François-Auguste Biard – an ethnographer painter who painted the magnificent landscapes in the North and the Amazonian forest – pride of place. The exhibition's curator chose 20 works, most of them never-before-seen, to comment during a virtual tour.

This exhibition at Victor Hugo’s house is the first retrospective devoted to François-Auguste Biard (1799-1882). Ethnographer painter, he travelled a lot to reproduce the world, and he was particularly talent to reproduce movements and colors. The François-Auguste Biard, peintre voyageur exhibition is to be discovered from November 5, 2020 to March 7, 2021.

Unfortunately, lockdown prevent visitors from coming and admiring the magnificent paintings hanging in the renovated museum - still waiting to reopen. The exhibition is now to travel: it is expected at the Tromsø Nordnorks Kunstmuseum in Norway.

Fortunately, the Maison de Victor Hugo has thought about everything: the exhibition's curator had the time to record a guided tour of the exhibition. This virtual tour enables us to discover this fascinating painter through 20 works chosen and commented by the exhibition's curator Vincent Gille who is also the curator of the Maison de Victor Hugo.

A 45-minute tour you can complete with a podcast presenting the traveling painter's life.

After introducing the painter, his career and his family, the exhibition focuses on the world he knew and explored. This retrospective gathers about 80 works, most of them being displayed for the first time. François-Auguste Biard started by traveling along the Mediterranean Sea, to Malta, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.

Then, Joseph Paul Gaimard asks him to take part in an expedition in Spitsbergen and Lapland. A section of the exhibition will be devoted to it, displaying paintings painted on the occasion and echoing panels painted for the National Museum of Natural History.

Fun fact, he will go on this expedition with writer Leonie d’Aunet who will become his wife. She will cheat on him with Victor Hugo from 1843 to 1850. The couple officially breaks up in 1855.

Towards 1858, Biard leaves for two years to Brazil. He stays about one year in Rio de Janeiro working at the court of the Emperor Pedro II. He visits the inland and the Amazonia he will paint the beauty of. Before sailing back to France, he goes to North America and immortalize his journey with a painting, “Comment on voyage en chemin de fer dans l’Amérique du Nord” [How we travel by railway in North America] displayed at the Salon in 1861. Even though he is appreciated at the Salon, some do not.  They reproach him for humor and caricatures he adds in his paintings and that make them so special.

Biard creates quaint and everyday situations, often funny, as well as war situations and shipwrecks. Discover the paintings that marked the life of this traveling painter in this exceptional exhibition you really do not want to miss.

Practical information

Dates and Opening Time
Starts 26 April 2021



    6, place des Vosges
    75004 Paris 4

    Plein tarif: €9

    Average duration
    45 min

    Official website


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