A Vintage French Brooch of a Literary Genius: Victor Hugo
This lustrous vintage head brooch of Victor Hugo (1802-1885), from France, made of brass, is rare: it resembles Auguste Rodin’s many sculptural images of Hugo in that it captures a pensive man engaging in deep, philosophical thoughts, a metamorphic man endlessly searching for the next self, a dialectical man rifted apart by an internal chasm—all as reflected in the cosmic scopes of Hugo’s imaginative work.
We see not a neo-classical archetypal man, with a presence of clarity to embody the republican idealism, like those young Hugos sculpted by David d'Angers—but those ambiguous, self-questioning, always unformed ones by Rodin.
The face of Hugo in this head brooch captures the inner thought and emotion of a man, with a prominent forehead and a deep, intense gaze looking not far, but inwardly into himself. His cheeks are not full, so uneven they look abstract or even amorphously grotesque. His expression marks a contradiction—the grotesque and the sublime, with a silverquick play of shadows and light—so similar to the indeterminate, metaphysical force delivered in Hugo’s paintings.
* Auguste Rodin’s sculptural images of Victor Hugo capture the dynamics of a poetic genius, which, like his words, possess a life of their own, with new meanings in different epochs.
* David d'Angers’s Victor Hugo portraits embody the moral and spiritual ideals in neo-classism, but such static ideals have often been vigorously challenged by Hugo.
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