Charles MERYON: [Turret Known as Marat Turret]

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Etching and drypoint, 212 x 131 mm. Schneiderman 72, 10th state (of 14); Delteil 41.

Rare impression of the 10th state (of 14), before the allegorical figures in the sky and the inscriptions in the lower margin are removed, the inscriptions replaced by a title: Tourelle, rue de l’École de Médecine, 22. One impression mentioned by Schneiderman is inscribed ‘Bon à tirer pour trente ép. C. Meryon 20 juin 61’ (Good to print for 30 impressions. C. Meryon 20 June 61).

Superb impression printed on laid paper watermarked HALLINES. In very fine condition. Full margins (sheet: 495 x 335 mm). Provenance: Henri. M. Petiet (his stamp on the back, Lugt: not described).

“This piece, though it may be small in size, is, in my opinion (and I have good reason to think this), my masterpiece: what I am talking about is the state with the composition in the sky: that is to say, on the one hand, Justice, who, on seeing Truth resplendent with light, faints, her weighing scales, her sword, all slipping from her hands; on the other hand, at the top, under the figure of a young girl with her back turned to us, her hair falling over her shoulders, holding her forehead in both her hands as if struck by some acute pain, stopped suddenly just as she is taking flight, her two small wings separated, detached, this particular allusion, precise and positive, that sums up almost all by itself the whole focus of the subject, that which I would call in the end Innocence wronged, violated...”. “Those who would examine it with the interest and attention it requires have to understand, have to find out its true and full meaning, a meaning to which, I repeat, I give the utmost importance.” Charles Meryon, “Mes observations sur l'article de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts”, commentary on the catalogue of his engraved oeuvre published in 1863 by Philippe Burty (Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 102, December 1983, pp. 221-236).

In a letter to Philippe Burty, dated July 12, 1861, Meryon explicitly links his etching to the assassination of Marat in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, on the July 13, 1793, in the rue de l'École de Médecine: he mentions the figure of “this protagonist, so severe and resolute, in the great revolutionary drama”, “the fatal keystone, engulfed in the apocalyptic tragedy with all those who have rebelled, or who have broken everything that is saint and sacred.” (op. cit., note 46). Meryon gives a very faithful depiction of the tower at the crossroads of the rue de l'École de Médecine and the rue Larrey, as can be seen if we compare it to a photograph taken by Charles Marville in 1866. The tower was torn down in February 1876.

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Price: € 4500