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Storytelling in Miniature

Charles Meryon
French, 1821–1868

Old Gate of the Palace of Justice, Paris (Ancienne porte du Palais de Justice), from “Etchings of Paris” (Eaux fortes sur Paris)

Etching, 1854
3 3/8 x 3 7/16 in.
Museum purchase, 1921.164

Charles Meryon is one of the seminal figures in the history of etching. His talents and inventiveness are often compared with those of Rembrandt and Whistler. His master series Eaux-fortes sur Paris (Etchings of Paris) ranks among the most important landmarks in French printmaking history. The Toledo Museum’s Meryon collection includes 121 prints and features some of his most famous works.

This is the frontispiece for the Etchings of Paris series. In this image, the two round medieval towers are enlarged out of scale, thus rendering them foreboding. The ominous note is further accentuated by the flying demon holding a banner. The idea for the demon was inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s lithograph of Mephistopheles flying over a city at night (1828).