Le Pont au Change, vers 1784 (after Nicolle). 1855. Etching with drypoint. Delteil-Wright 47.vi; Schneiderman 47.vi. 5 5/16 x 9 3/16 (sheet 12 1/4 x 18 1/8). Signed in the plate. An extremely rich impression with plate tone, printed on the full sheet cream laid paper. Annotated in pencil by the British collector, 'M Sadler Esq' upper left. An extremely scarce image. Signed in the plate. $4,500.
The etching is after a drawing by Victor Jean Nicolle (1754-1826).
The great scholar, Frederic Wedmore, wrote:
The Pont au Change— both the large original etching and the exquisite interpretation of Nicolle's old design—the Pont Neuf, the great Abside itself with its foreground of Seine stream, will show us that no one like Meryon has depicted running water, now shallow, now deep, never mirror-like, never gathered into waves, but rippling pleasantly against the angles of the bridge piers, or flowing moody and sullen under its darkest arches ; now in happy sunlight ; now in profound and blackened shadow, suggestive of the suicidal plunge and the slime of the river-bed ; now again in the half lights, the delicate semi-tones more beautiful and difficult. Here, at least, there is success undisputed, and in etched work quite unequalled, save in our own day once and once only by the broad ripple of the Thames in Agamemnon, and save, in the great days, by the tranquil waters of Rembrandt, which reflect the pleasant lines of house and tree in Cottage and Dutch Haybarn, and of streamside, fence, and herbage in Cottage with white Palings.
"MERYON, AND MERYON'S PARIS", The Eclectic magazine of foreign literature, science, and art, Volume 91, 1878, p.201.
He adds, in a footnote, p. 202:
In the first rank are seven original etchings, and two suggested by old drawings. They are : L'Abside de Notre-Dame; Le Pont Neuf; Le Pont au Change; Saint Etienne du Mont; Tour de I'Horloge ; La Morgue; La Rue de la Tixtranderie ; Pont Neuf et la Samatitaine, suggested by a drawing of Nicolle; Pont au Change vers 1784, suggested by a drawing of Nicolle.
Why do I write ' suggested ' and not' copied '? A story will give the answer. M. Bonnardot, the possessor of the original drawing, looking at Meryon's plate of Le Pont au Change vers 1784, said to him, ' Why have you put that church tower in the corner ? ' ' Because it is there,' said Meryon. ' But no,' rejoined Bonnardot, referring to the drawing for a convincing proof, ' there is not the faintest sign of it.' The artist looked gravely at the drawing, gravely at his plate, gravely at M. Bonnardot. ' You do not see it,' answered Meryon ; ' but /see it.' And indeed a composition otherwise stiff and fragmentary has become charming and complete by that tower. The picture wanted it, and for Meryon it was there.
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