Born in Paris in 1821, Charles Meryon is considered one of the best architectural etchers in history. Early in his career as an artist he worked for almost nothing which left him poverty stricken. He almost exclusively used etching as a medium. This is often credited to his being colorblind. Remaining a bachelor his whole life, his time was often split between his work and love, both of which engaged his active imagination. He eventually began hallucinating and was committed to an asylum after believing that he was Christ. He was released but died in an asylum after he was recommitted in 1867. The print seen before you is a prime example of his mastery of architectural prints.
The first American artist seen in the collection is James Abott McNeill Whistler. Born in 1834 in Massachusetts, Whistler was a firm believer in the motto "art for art's sake."
As a young man, Whistler was enrolled in the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia while his father worked on the railroad His father died in Russia and his family was forced to move back to Connecticut. Whistler was enrolled in West Point but his time there was limited. He was eventually dismissed by then headmaster, Robert E. Lee. Whistler worked briefly as a draftsman, but eventually lost that job due to his inclusion of serpents and mermaids in the margins of coastal maps.
After losing this job, he concluded his career was to be an artist. Whistler left for Paris in 1855 to study art, and he never returned to the United States. His travels around Europe led to his preeminence as a painter and printmaker. Whistler died in London in 1903. If you look closely in the lower left hand side of Hurlingham, you can make out his famous butterfly signature which included a stinger, fitting for the man that was Whistler. His notable style and talent is evident in the span of works exhibited here in Charles City, which span 34 years of his work.