What a natty chappy: Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Victor was a French poet, novelist and at the forefront of the Romantic Literary Movement. I spotted this photo of him on display on the Ferry over to France.

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo on display on the Ferry to France

It got me thinking, how did photographers direct their sitters when photography was new. Invented in 1835, Victor would have been 33 before he had his first opportunity to have his photograph taken.

In the photo above we can clearly see his hands. In art hands were the most difficult thing to get right and portrait painters would charge a lot more if people wanted their hands visible in their portrait. For some people this was a way of showing off their wealth with both of their hands visible. With photography hands were going to be easy to capture and get right so perhaps in the early days of photography showing of your hands was a nod back to the painters.

Over the decades you can see that Victor had a bit of fun with this. Wonder what his photographer was saying to him.

Victor Hugo

Very nice Victor, very intense. Can we try another pose?

Victor Hugo

OK, yes I can see what you are doing there, I like it and I think we have some nice looks. Can we try some without your hand on your head?

Victor Hugo

Come on Victor – that does count as ON your head. Shall we try again later?

Victor Hugo

Victor! Really?

Victor Hugo

Seriously Victor? Shall we just leave it there?

What are your views on showing your hands in your portrait image?

Do you like it or not?