In 2004, aided by the FRAM, the Victor Hugo Museum acquired a series of 100 original drawings by François Flameng (1856-1923) for the Complete Works of Victor Hugo, published by Hetzel-Quantin (1885-1889) and known as the Flameng Album.
These original drawings (watercolour, gouache, ink on white paper), which are identical in format (33 x 22.6 cm), were stored in a little portfolio kept in a box covered in bookbinder’s paper. Probably only about twenty or so were presented or exhibited (traces of glue or small pinholes in the corners). These drawings were used for the publication of series of plates by various artists which were sold by the Librairie Hébert to embellish collectors’ copies.
The drawing opposite: Alone on the Deck, was intended for the volume: Actes et Paroles (1852-1870) and more specifically for the chapter: Ce que c’est que l’exil.
An emphatic style of composition and atmospheric effects were very common in the work of François Flameng, who illustrated Victor Hugo’s work in the later years of the writer’s life. However, he demonstrated great adaptability, varying his style to suit the nature of Hugo’s texts. This drawing alone can therefore not be said to be representative of this major acquisition, and others will gradually be exhibited.
Nevertheless, it is representative of the idea that most people had of this writer, politician and family man. With this drawing, François Flameng expressed the image that Victor Hugo had chosen to make public in his lifetime - here as Captain Harvey, whose death had touched the writer deeply since he felt a certain affinity with the Englishman (the drawing was done a few months after Victor Hugo’s death).
Through the gloomy fog, we watched the black statue sink into the sea. The exile now bids him farewell.