Etchings of Paris: The Little Bridge

Etchings of Paris: The Little Bridge


Charles Meryon

(French, 1821-1868)

Etching and engraving

Support: Green paper

Sheet: 36.7 x 26.9 cm (14 7/16 x 10 9/16 in.); Platemark: 26 x 18.7 cm (10 1/4 x 7 3/8 in.)

The Milton Curtiss Rose Collection in memory of Evelyn Curtiss Rose 1954.881

Catalogue raisonné: Delteil & Wright 24; Schneiderman 21

State: III/VII Schneiderman, state IV/IX



Although Meryon made the first study for this scene with a camera lucida (an apparatus containing a prism or an arrangement of mirrors that reflects the image on a surface so that its outlines may be traced), the artist then made changes to improve the composition—extending the height of the towers of Notre-Dame, for instance. Meryon did not mean his plates to have the precision of a photograph. Rather, he combined two views—a sketch from a low point at the water's edge and a view from the parapet—which, although not totally accurate, are believable. Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) reported in a letter that he discussed this print with the artist who claimed "that the shadow cast by a portion of the stonework on the side wall of the Pont Neuf looked exactly like the profile of a sphinx; that this was entirely coincidence on his part and only later did he take note of this peculiarity."

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