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Charles Meryon (French, 1821-1868). "Le Stryge," c. 1853. Etching. 6.⅝ x 5 ⅙ in. (plate). Collection of Thomas R. Broker.

SAVANNAH, GA (August 19, 2022) — A place is often built atop its past – sometimes literally. But what do we create when we construct something new from what remains of the old? This is one of many questions posed by Telfair Museums’ latest exhibition, Gothic Soul: Charles Meryon, which opens Friday, August 19, 2022, at the Jepson Center for the Arts.

Gothic Soul will focus on the tumultuous life and work of Charles Meryon (1821-1868), a French artist based in Paris during the Gothic Revival who devoted himself to etching after discovering he was colorblind.

The illegitimate son of a dancer with the Paris Opéra and an English physician, Meryon initially pursued a career in the French Navy, where he learned to draw. This exhibition will present a sweeping view of his oeuvre, from etchings of the South Pacific, inspired by his travels as a naval officer, to now-iconic depictions of Paris during a pivotal moment of transformation in France’s post-Revolution history.

Today, Meryon’s singular vision of a Paris in flux has become integral to France’s national identity. After World War II, as a gesture of gratitude to the U.S., French officials shipped a “Merci Train” of boxcars across the Atlantic, each one laden with gifts – numbering among them official reproductions of Meryon’s etchings. Over 30 works will be on view in Gothic Soul, with the majority on loan from a private collector and others selected from Telfair’s permanent collection, including some of the reproductions gifted to the U.S.

Gothic Soul: Charles Meryon will be on view at the Jepson Center Aug 19, 2022 through Jan 8, 2023. Local residents can still visit Gothic Soul for free on Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, August 28, 2022 – learn more about this opportunity here.

This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Anne-Solène Bayan, assistant curator. A companion catalogue written and compiled by Bayan will be available for purchase at the museum store in August 2022.

About Telfair Museums

Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and the first U.S. museum founded by a woman. The museum features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District and encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. For more information on Telfair Museums, visit telfair.org.