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L'Abside de Notre Dame

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Charles Meryon
French (1821 - 1868) Primary

L'Abside de Notre Dame


6 13/16 in. x 11 1/2 in. (17.27 cm x 29.21 cm)
Bequest of M. Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College, 1894-1922

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 1935.6
Other Number(s): Deanery.227 (Deanery Number)
Geography: Europe, France
Classification: Fine and Visual Arts; Prints; Etchings
Culture/Nationality: French
Collection: Deanery Collection
Charles Meryon (1821-1868) was born in Paris, the son of a travelling English physician and a dancer at a Parisian opera house. After spending a few years in the French navy, he returned to Paris and began painting lessons. Meryon was born color-blind, however, a condition which disrupted his painting career and led him to study etching at the studio of Alexandre Bléry.

Meryon also suffered from mental illness throughout his life. His familiarity with poverty and melancholy shaped his artistic vision, and over the course of four years (1850-1854) he produced a series of twenty-two haunting and imaginative views of the streets, buildings, and bridges of Paris called "Eaux-fortes sur Paris."

"L’Abside de Notre Dame" is commonly considered the masterpiece of the series. It is a view of Notre Dame de Paris from the southeast, with the Pont de l’Archevêché in the middleground and boats, people, and a horse-drawn carriage on the riverbank. Meryon’s skill in rendering architecture is evident in this etching, particularly in the play of light and shadow on the exterior of the cathedral. This print hung in the Blue Room of the Deanery along with other prints from the same series and etchings of the American artist, James McNeill Whistler.

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