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2 / Dreams and Visions

Le Pont-au-Change (The Exchange Bridge, Paris)
Le Pont-au-Change (The Exchange Bridge, Paris)
Artist / Origin Charles Méryon (French, 1821–1868)
Region: Europe
Date 1854
Material Etching
Dimensions H: 6 1/8 in. (15.5 cm.), W: 13 3/16 in. (33.5 cm.)
Location Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Credit Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Gift of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts.

expert perspective

James GanzCurator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Le Pont-au-Change (The Exchange Bridge, Paris)

» Charles Méryon (French, 1821–1868)

expert perspective

James Ganz James Ganz Curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

In the nineteenth century there was an awareness that the city was changing. Some of the older parts of Paris were in a state of extreme decay, and buildings were collapsing. There were plans afoot to modernize the city, to tear down some of the older buildings. But there were many figures—many literary figures and artists—who loved the old Paris, who cherished it. And it became the subject for many of these artists. Victor Hugo’s novel Notre Dame de Paris was a great source of inspiration for many visual artists, including people like Charles Méryon. These artists were really fascinated by death and decay. Charles Méryon’s Paris is inhabited by strange creatures, often birds of prey and creatures swarming through the sky that, of course, were not part of the real world, but that were part of his own imagination.” 

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