Hugo, Valentine, 1887-1968

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French artist, author, and surrealist.

From the description of Valentine Hugo Papers, 1872-1968. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 85242169

Valentine Hugo was a painter and designer whose works employed dream-like imagery. She illustrated some literary works by the Surrealists, such as Paul Eluard's Hommes et Bêtes. Crevel was a Surrealist poet and artist.

From the description of Letters received, from and about René Crevel, 1925-1935. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 80211465

Born Valentine Marie Augustine Gross in 1887, French artist and author Valentine Hugo began her life in Capècure, a suburb of Boulogne-sur-mer. Daughter of musician Auguste Gross and Zèlie Dèmelin, Valentine developed a love for art, theatre, and music early in life.

While attending school in May of 1909, Valentine Hugo stood in the wings of the Thèâtre du Châtelet watching Serge Diaghilev's Russian ballet company Ballets Russes perform for the first time. She would spend portions of the next six years sketching Ballet Russes dancers Karsavina and Nijinsky. In 1913, the Galerie Montaigne sponsored an exposition of Hugo's sketches in the foyer of the Champs-Élysèes thèâtre on the tumultuous opening night of Stravinsky's famed ballet Le Sacre du Printemps.

In the same year as her first successful exhibition, Hugo became friends with a number of prominent French artists including Roger de la Fresnaye, Lèon-Paul Fargue, Erik Satie, and Jean Cocteau. The following year, Satie, Cocteau, and Hugo would collaborate on the ballet Parade ; unfortunately, Hugo would not be part of its eventual production in 1917.

Valentine met her future husband Jean Hugo, grandson of the influential French author Victor Hugo, in 1917 at the home of Mimi and Cypa Godebski(a). In 1919 they were married with Cocteau and Satie as their only witnesses. Neither of Jean's parents consented to the marriage, perhaps contributing to its eventual demise.

In March of 1926, Valentine attended one of the first Surrealist expositions where she met Paul Éluard. Their meeting sparked a friendship that would continue until his death in 1952. In 1927, after working as costume designer on the set of La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, Valentine returned to Paris a full-fledged Surrealist; Jean Hugo, however, never embraced the Surrealist movement. In the years following their hurried nuptials, their tastes diverged leading to separation in 1929 and finally divorce in 1932. (Despite the end of their marital relations, Valentine and Jean remained friends until her death in 1968.)

Another Surrealist with whom Valentine had a brief romance was Andrè Breton. From August of 1930 to October of 1932, Valentine lived, traveled, and worked with the self-declared leader of the Surrealists. During this time, Valentine befriended the rest of the Surrealists, namely Gala and Salvador Dali, Nusch Éluard, Max Ernst, Georges Hugnet, Renè Char, and Tristan Tzara.

In January of 1940, the Director of Radio-Mondial Jean Fraysse asked Valentine Hugo to work for his station. Her work at Radio-Mondial was short lived; Valentine quit in June when the station fell under German control after the invasion of France. Yet her work was not in vain, working on the radio for these six months prepared her for future radio broadcasts in the 1950s and 1960s.

In her latter years, she would rarely emerge from her home and preferred the solitude of her house to the bustling streets of Paris. She alone survived most of her acquaintances from youth; Erik Satie, Raymond Radiguet, Paul Éluard, Jean Cocteau, and Andrè Breton all passed before Valentine's death in 1968.

From the guide to the Valentine Hugo Papers TXRC06-A16., 1872-1968, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Howard D. Rothschild collection on, Ballets Russes, of Serge Diaghilev, 1909-1956 (inclusive), 1909-1914 (bulk). Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Jean Cocteau Papers TXRC06-A11., 1905-1959, (bulk 1910-1928) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Frederick R. Koch collection, 1640-1983 Yale University Library
creatorOf Hugo, Valentine, 1887-1968. Letters received, from and about René Crevel, 1925-1935. Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Ekstrom Collection: Diaghilev and Stravinsky Foundation, 1902-1984 V & A Department of Theatre and Performance
referencedIn General Collection manuscript music miscellany, [ca. 1600-ongoing] Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Valentine Hugo Papers TXRC06-A16., 1872-1968 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Georges Hugnet Papers TXRC06-A17., 1920-1971 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Hugnet, Georges, 1906-1974. Georges Hugnet Papers 1920-1971. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Hugo, Valentine, 1887-1968. Valentine Hugo Papers, 1872-1968. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Koch, Frederick R. (Frederick Robinson). Frederick R. Koch collection of Jean Cocteau, 1913-1969. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Frederick R. Koch collection, 1640-1983 Yale University Library
referencedIn Hugo, Jean, 1894-1984. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963. Jean Cocteau Papers, 1905-1959 (bulk 1910-1928). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Victoria Ocampo papers, 1908-1979. Houghton Library
referencedIn Houghton Library printed book provenance file, E-K. Houghton Library
creatorOf Lake, Carlton. Carlton Lake Collection of French Manuscripts, 1377-2000, (bulk 1895-1940). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Badet, Andrè de, 1891- person
associatedWith Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957. person
associatedWith Breton, Andrè, 1896-1966 person
associatedWith Chalupt, René. person
associatedWith Chalupt, Renè. person
associatedWith Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963 person
associatedWith Crevel, René, 1900-1935. person
associatedWith Cueva, Tota. person
associatedWith Daudet, Charles. person
associatedWith Daudet, Charles. person
associatedWith Deharme, Lise. person
associatedWith Deharme, Lise. person
correspondedWith Ekstrom, Parmenia Migel., 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Éluard, Paul, 1895-1952. person
associatedWith Giraudoux, Jean, 1882-1944 person
associatedWith Gross, Zélie. person
associatedWith Gross, Zèlie. person
associatedWith Houghton Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Howard D. Rothschild. person
associatedWith Hugnet, Georges, 1906-1974 person
associatedWith Hugo, Jean, 1894- person
associatedWith Hugo, Jean, 1894-1984. person
associatedWith Koch, Frederick R. (Frederick Robinson), person
associatedWith Lake, Carlton. person
associatedWith Laure, Marie, 1902- person
associatedWith Man Ray, 1890-1976 person
associatedWith Nijinsky, Romola de Pulszky. person
associatedWith Nijinsky, Romola de Pulszky. person
correspondedWith Ocampo, Victoria, 1891- person
associatedWith Picabia, Francis, 1879-1953 person
associatedWith Radiguet, Raymond, 1903-1923. person
associatedWith Satie, Erik, 1866-1925 person
associatedWith Tzara, Tristan, 1896-1963 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Art, French
Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957
Eluard, Paul, 1895-1952
Radiguet, Raymond, 1903-1923
Satie, Erik, 1866-1925


Birth 1887-03-16

Death 1968-03-16






Ark ID: w69602qx

SNAC ID: 37902619