London, G. & W. Nicoll, 1801. Broadsheet (71.0 x 56.0 cm). Aquatint, finished by hand.
A fine large plate of the Rhone glacier in Valais, Switzerland, drawn "on the spot" by Claude Louis Châtelet (1753-1795), engraved by the French engraver Jaques Mérigot (later James Merigot; d. 1816) and painted by P. Vanlerberghe from Flanders, who was also known as an etcher. Mérigot and Vanlerberghe moved to London sometime in the 1790's. Here, this plate was made several years after the death of Châtelet. "[Châtelet] embraced with ardour the cause of the Revolution, allied himself with Robespierre and the leaders of the Jacobins, and became a member of the Revolutionary Tribunal. He was arrested some months after the 9th Thermidor, tried, condemned, and executed in Paris, May 7, 1795" (Wikipedia). It is tempting to assume that Mérigot - and perhaps Vanlerberghe too - had close ties with Châtelet and therefore fled to London. As far as we know this plate is a piece of art on its own, not meant to be part of book. It is one of the earliest views of the glacier and it may be of importance in establishing reduction the length of the glacier in historic times. A. Gattlen, L'estampe topographique ou valais 1850-1899 et supplement 1600-1849, p. 15.