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Charles Meryon

1821 - 1868

Le Ministère de la Marine (Fictions et Voeux) by Charles Meryon

Le Ministère de la Marine (Fictions et Voeux)   1865

  Original etching.
Signed with the artist’s monogram in the plate.
S 504 x 360 mm; P 168 x 148 mm; I 142 x 131 mm
Good strong impression, with the publication line of Cadart & Luquet, as published in 1866.

One of Charles Meryon’s last two Parisian subjects, etched not long before his final readmission to the lunatic asylum at Charenton, Le Ministère de la Marine is the most bizarre of all of Meryon’s images of the French capital. As a young man Charles Meryon had enlisted with the Navy in 1837. On taking leave from his ship in 1846, he had apparently received a promise from the Minister of the Marine that a post should be kept vacant for him in the Hydrographical Department. But, instead of being given this post, he suddenly received an unexpected notice to rejoin his ship. Feeling unjusty treated and aggrieved at not receiving the promised appointment, he at once tendered his resignation from the Navy.

The resentment which Charles Meryon harboured towards the Ministry of the Marine throughout the remainder of his life has become developed into the disordered fantasies of a maniac in this extraordinary etching. The French Admiralty building is shown under attack from bizarre mythological forces seen flying across sky above the Place de la Concorde. Charles Meryon’s original title for this work, The Ministry of the Marine (Imaginings and Wishes), appears to suggest that this image was purely a depiction of Meryon’s desires; however, from Meryon’s own description of his plates, it is clear that he really believed the characters in his etchings to exist and that he depicted them as he saw them in his mind’s eye. In truth, this image was the vengeful product of a disturbed mind upon the brink of irretrievable breakdown.

On warm white wove paper, with full margins. The uneven sheet edges have one or two short repairs, otherwise very good condition.