Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris

c. 1881

Luc-Olivier Merson

(French, 1846-1920)

Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, black and white gouache, and graphite

Support: Light brown wove paper (a multi-ply board)

Sheet: 32.6 x 21.7 cm (12 13/16 x 8 9/16 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.359



Victor Hugo's celebrated 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris tells the story of the grotesque and deformed Quasimodo, an orphan raised by Claude Frollo, the archdeacon of the church of Notre Dame in Paris. Hugo's novel became an important influence on many artists and helped to define a poetic view of the medieval period and of Gothic architecture that lasted well into the second half of the century. The sheet's imagery brings to mind a passage from the text: "The transept belfry and the two towers were to him three great cages, the birds in which, taught by him, would sing for him alone."

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