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Storytelling in Miniature

Charles Meryon
French, 1821–1868

The Old Soldier Settler’s Hut at Akoroa, 1845 (La Chaumière du colon vieux soldat à Akoroa, 1845), from “A Voyage to New Zealand, 1842–1845”

Etching with engraved text, 1866
Museum purchase, 1923.3087b

An amazing amount of space is depicted in this intriguing print. A drawing of the subject was probably made when Meryon visited Akoroa, New Zealand, in 1845. The voyage took place while Meryon was in the French navy, long before he became a printmaker. In the foreground, the settler’s hut sits slightly below a rise. On the right is a large toetoe plant (Cortaderia toetoe), a tussock grass recognized by the large flower plumes on tall stems. Beside the hut is a tree fern. Tree ferns are found growing in tropical and subtropical areas in Australia, New Zealand, and other nearby islands.

The Museum also owns the copper plate made to print this image; see it on the following page.