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Charles Meryon

Rickety [i.e. Ricketty] Dick / [portrait possibly after the work of Charles Meryon, ca. 1843-1846]

About this item: 

Ricketty Dick (Warrah Warrah) was a well known local character. He suffered from a disease of the lower limbs which eventually crippled him. He was a favourite of William Charles Wentworth, who is said to have paid a man to look after him in his old age. He died in 1863 and a medallion was struck in his honour as a souvenir of the 1873 Exhibition, Prince Alfred Park, Sydney.

This unsigned portrait is possibly after the work of draughtsman, etcher, sculptor and naval officer Charles Meryon (1821-1868). An officer in the French Navy, Meryon sailed to New Zealand in 1842 on Le Rhin, which had been sent to protect the French settlement at Akaroa. He spent four years in the South Pacific making a number of sketches. Le Rhin visited Sydney twice, in Nov-Dec 1843 and Oct 1845 to Jan 1846.

A similar large pastel portrait of an Australian Aboriginal by Charles Meryon, ‘Un Anthropophage’ n.d. (1840s), is held in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris (Acquisition 9482, Dec 1938). This drawing, (part of a collection of drawings originally given to Antoine-Eduard Foley by Meryon for a collaborative book project about Oceania), was reproduced after Meryon in: Histoire naturelle de l’homme et des socits qu’il organise: moeurs et costumes de certains papous Australiens : anatome et physiologie du plus arrir des noirs / par Antoine-Eduard Foley. Paris : J-B, Baillire et Fils, 1876. “Papou Australien Oriental” [p.371]