Valantine Hugo was the first woman to join the Surrealists with a proffesional reputation already established.
She was initially the wife of Victor Hugo’ s great grandson. In the twenties She collaborated with him on ballet designs.
She created lithograph portraits of Picasso, Eric Satie and the actress Falconetti in the film ‘ Passion of Jeanne d’Arc’ by Carl Th Dreyer with whom she collaborated.
Hugo became active in the Surrealist movement around 1930 and was the foremost illustrator of Paul Eluard’s work.
Hugo was wellknown In Paris literary circles. She was somewhat older than most of the women Surrealists and was described by Cocteau in 1916 as ” his swan: ” You should come yourself , like the true angel you are, long-throated, great winged, flying to me…You are my angel, my good angel, watching over me, stimulating me.
Transformation and en extasy bordering on the mystical in which human and celestial worlds meet and join forces animates Hugo’s work.
Her relationship with Paul Eluard was unique,. Although she was, for a short time, linked romantically with him, they maintained a close and confidential friendship and working relastionship until his death in 1952 She was the illustrator he most trusted with his work and at his death her painting” Le Harfang des Neiges’, originally inspired by a poem of Breton, was hanging above his bed