Charles Meryon

France, b.1821, d.1868

Océanie, Îlots a Uvea (Wallis), Pêche aux Palmes, 1845

  • Gifted by Olivia Spencer Bower, 1979
  • Etching
  • 159 x 342mm
  • 79/303
  • 1845

In 1845, Charles Meryon, a young French naval officer, spent sixteen days aboard the Rhin at Uvea, Wallis Islands – an island group between Fiji and Tokelau first inhabited almost three thousand years ago. When he made this etching nearly twenty years later, he recalled details of this visit:Some natives, most of their bodies submerged, descend into the sea, holding open baskets [...] formed of branches or fronds of coconut palms, held together at the bottom, to receive the fish that were taken in and imprisoned there, while others chase it in front of them. […] In the right corner, underneath the little island, one can distinguish a small canoe, of a form peculiar to these islands.Meryon spent over three years in the Pacific from 1843–6, for most of that time stationed in Akaroa.

(Te Wheke, 2020)