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Le Ministere de la Marine

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Image of Le Ministere de la Marine

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Charles Meryon
French (1821 - 1868) Primary

Le Ministere de la Marine


6.5 x 5.625 in. (16.51 x 14.288 cm)
Bequest of M. Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College, 1894-1922

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: X.427
Other Number(s): Deanery.224 (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."

This etching was produced approximately a decade after his series "Eaux-fortes sur Paris" and is one of his final works depicting the city. It shows the Place de la Concorde, with the French Naval Ministry under attack from fantastic flying creatures. The scene has been interpreted as the product of lingering resentment Meryon experienced for the Minister of the Marine – a result of an earlier offense during his naval career, in conjunction with the artist’s increasing mental instability towards the end of his life. The print hung in the Blue Room of the Deanery along with other prints by Meryon and etchings of the American artist, James McNeill Whistler.

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