Jean Hugo (1894 – 1984)
Jean Hugo was born in Paris in 1894 into a family with a great artistic heritage. He was the great- grandson of the poet and writer Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885), and young Jean showed a keen interest in art and poetry from a very early age. His career spanned the period from the First World War, through the innovative and exciting Parisian inter-war years, up to his death in 1984. He mixed in artistic circles throughout his life, including Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Erik Satie, Marcel Proust, Max Jacob, Cecil Beaton and many other artists and writers.
Jean Hugo is predominantly known for his small, slightly naïve paintings in either oil or gouache. He also illustrated books, designed theatre sets and costumes, and produced ceramics, murals and textile designs. His paintings are unique, following no particular 20th century movement, maintaining an authentic originality, evoking a very personal vision of both city and pastoral scenes, imbuing both with a certain magical quality. The writer Paul Morand said of his work, “Jean Hugo’s artistic temperament holds it’s own outside all fashions. His work reminds us of the marvels that the leisure of some prince of ancient times might have produced, as can be found in the tale of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’.”
Jean Hugo’s paintings can be viewed at the Barnes Foundation in Philadephia, and are also present in collections in London, Tokyo, Toronto, Paris, Marseille, and at the Musée Fabre in Montpelier, France. He died in 1984.