Luc Olivier Merson

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Luc Olivier Merson
Phoebus de Chateaupers Encounters a Stranger, from Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris"
Pen and black ink, black chalk, and brown wash, on paper.
3 1/2 x 6 inches (89 x 152 mm)
Gift of Charles A. Ryskamp in memory of Gordon N. Ray.

For the 1889 edition of Victor Hugo's 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris, published by A Ferroud, Paris, Merson produced a set of full-page illustrations, head- and tail-pieces which were etched by Adolphe-Alphonse Géry-Bichard. The beloved tale recounts the history of the disfigured orphan Quasimodo who was taken in and raised by the archdeacon at Notre Dame in Paris. The novel's popularity created an abiding interest in Gothic architecture and the history--and mysteries--of the cathedral.
Merson worked intensively on his vignettes, executing initial studies in pen and ink and often working them up into elaborate, full-scale wash drawings. This scene likely depicts Phoebus de Chateaupers, captain of King Louis XI's archers, encountering a shadowy stranger who questions him about his rendezvous with the Romani girl Esmeralda. The stranger, who does not reveal himself as Claude Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, is jealous of Esmeralda's love for Phoebus. The captain draws his sword and asks the stranger to do so as well.


Watermark: none.

Charles Ryskamp (1928-2010), Princeton, NJ.
Associated names: 

Ryskamp, Charles, former owner.

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