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Charles Meryon

1821 - 1868

Presentation de Valère Maxime au Roi Louis XI by Charles Meryon

Presentation de Valère Maxime au Roi Louis XI   1860

  Etching with drypoint.
Signed with initials and dated in the plate.
Ref: Schneiderman 71 vii/vii
S 239 x 333 mm; P 174 x 200 mm; I 145 x 172 mm
Superb early printing of the completed image, on antique tinted laid paper. Scarce.

This obscure work may be considered the most ideologically important of all of Charles Meryon’s etched works, for the story surrounding this etching is the principal source explaining Meryon’s mediaevalist concepts which dominate his imagery. Although some authorities doubt the actual content of the scene represented, this etching reproduces an early miniature which is thought to depict the presentation to Louis XI of the work Valère Maxime by its printer, Blaise de Vigener, in 1475. The plate was etched for Jules Niel, Librarian to the Minister of the Interior, to whom the miniature belonged at that time.

We are told that Charles Meryon took an impression of this etching to show M. Arnauldet and M. de Montaiglon at the Louvre. “One of the officials complimented Meryon upon his skill, and for the marvellous exactness with which he had reproduced the mediaeval sentiment of the drawing. Meryon replied with a flood of explanation, which lasted for over an hour. Naturally he could reproduce the feeling of such work. He had lived with these people. He knew all that was said, all that was done, by each of the personages. He knew their friendships, their hatreds, every detail of their lives. “Nothing was more foolish than the story he told us,” relates M. Anatole de Montaiglon “but nothing was more explicit. It was clear and living, with a rough eloquence, full of sparkle, and always remarkably intelligent. We said nothing. To approve was to encourage; to contradict was to exasperate.”

On grey-toned antique laid paper with indecipherable watermark, with full margins and deckle edge. Traces of previous hinging at extreme corners of sheet verso. Mild foxing in margins, otherwise very good original condition.