The Chimera of Amiens
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The Chimera of Amiens 1910
  • Scottish Art
Following a trip to Egypt in 1908-09, Cameron visited France. Amiens is the principal city and ancient capital of Picardy, and its Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame is especially noted for the fine array of sculptures on the main façade and in the south transept. This print shows the chimera on one of the buttresses of the Cathedral. Chimera are gargoyles that are formed from parts of different animals. They were traditionally placed on the upper levels of buildings to serve as rainwater spouts, but were also believed to guard the building from evil spirits. This print was undoubtedly inspired by Cameron’s friend Charles Meryon’s etching of 1853, which shows the chimera ‘Le Stryge’ on the parapet of Notre-Dame in Paris.// After his trip to Egypt it appears that Cameron returned to France in 1910, visiting Amiens, Beauvais, Chartres and Paris. Amiens is the principal city and ancient capital of Picardy, and is famed for its Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame. The Cathedral is especially noted for its fine array of sculptures on the main façade and in the south transept. This print shows the Griffin on one of the buttresses of the Cathedral. In producing this print Cameron would have been inspired by Meryon’s etching of 1853 showing the Chimera ‘Le Stryge’ on the parapet of Notre-Dame, Paris. In early states the design fills the whole of the copper plate, but by this fourth state the composition had been restricted within an oval border. The following year Cameron made a similar print showing ‘The Wingless Chimera; sited on the neighbouring buttress on the Cathedral’s roof. (VH: DY Cameron Display, B2 26 March – 13 June 2004)

Glossary Open

Etching

A form of printmaking in which a metal plate is covered with a substance called a 'ground', usually wax, into which an image is drawn with a needle. Acid is applied, eroding the areas of the plate exposed but not the areas covered by wax. The action of the acid creates lines in the metal plate that hold the ink from which a print is made when the plate is pressed against paper under pressure.

Façade

The external face of a building, usually referring to the most important, such as that facing the street or containing the main entrance.

Gothic

The art and architectural style that dominated Western Europe during the medieval period. Its buildings are characterised by pointed arches, strong vertical lines and elaborate window structures. The style was widely revived in the 19th century.

Etching, Façade, Gothic

Details

  • Acc. No. CAMERON.30
  • Medium Etching touched with drypoint on paper
  • Size 24.40 x 18.40 cm (within an oval)
  • Credit The Hon. Gertrude Forbes-Sempill Gift 1955