Nouvelle Zélande, Presqu’île de Banks, 1845
1863, 115 x 295mm, Etching on paper
Charles Meryon is best known for his etchings of Paris, which present a romantic portrait of the city in the mid-19th century. Among his earliest works are drawings of the coast of Aotearoa, produced while he was in the navy and later turned into etchings. Owing to his colourblindness, etching became Meryon’s most successful medium. Between 1850 and 1854, he produced the series Etchings of Paris. In addition these 22 etchings, he produced about 70 others.
Today, Meryon is highly regarded for his originality and ‘modern’ style. During his life, however, his prints sold for low prices. He experienced hardship and his mental health declined. Not long after he completed the Paris series, he entered the Charenton mental institution, Saint-Maurice. He made something of a recovery but was readmitted in 1867. A year later, he committed suicide.