— Copyright Dorothy Sloan 2013 —
Promotion of Coronation of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
The First Important Collection on Aztec Civilization
54. BOTURINI BENADUCI, Lorenzo. Idea de una nueva historia general de la America Septentrional. Fundada sobre material copioso de figuras, symbolos, caractères, y geroglificos, cantares, y manuscritos de autores indios, ultimamente descubiertos. Dedicala al Rey Ntro. Señor en su Real, y Supremo Consejo de las Indias el Cavallero Lorenzo Boturini Benaduci, Señor de la Torre, y de Hono. Con licencia. Madrid: En la Imprenta de Juan de Zuñiga, Año M.D.CC.XLVI, 1746.  1-167 [1, blank]   2-96 pp., woodcut vignettes and initial letters in text, 2 copper-engraved plates:  Frontispiece, untitled allegorical representation depicting King of Spain, Native Americans pointing to the incoming Spanish ships, globe showing America, nautical themes, arms, etc., below image: F Mathias de Irala del. et sculp | Matriti Anno 1746;  Laurentius eques Boturini Benaduci Dominus de Turre et Hono... [below image] F Mathias de Irala, del. et sculp. Matriti Anno 1746, portrait of Boturini at table on which is a manuscript depicting Veytia Calendar Wheel No. 4; he is holding an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, decorative elements and coat of arms in image. 4to (20.5 x 15 cm), mid-nineteenth-century full crimson morocco extra gilt, spine gilt with raised bands, inner gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, a.e.g. (front dentelle of binding signed by Trautz-Bauzonnet, German firm located in Paris, 1848-1879). Slight outer wear and a few small spots to binding, interior with very mild occasional age-toning, overall a fine copy, the engraved plates very fine and strong. Ink ownership inscription dated 1781 by the Duke of Grafton (Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton, 1735–1811). Later ownership label on verso of front free endpaper.
First edition of a landmark work documenting the first important collection on Aztec civilization. Beristáin de Souza, Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional (1883), Vol. I, p. 186. Bernal 1140. Brasseur de Bourbourg, Bibl. Mex.-Guat., p. 25. JCB III (1, 1700-1771) #817. Brunet I, column 2: “Ce livre est rare en Europe.” European Americana 1746/28. Field 159. Glass, p. 564: “The Idea...is a diffuse essay on the calendar and history of ancient Mexico with occasional comment on Mexican manuscripts.” Griffin 1360: “No collection of Mexican native materials before or since has equalled [it].” Hough, The Italians and the Creation of America 65: “The concept behind [Boturini's collection and] his idea of a new kind of history was fundamental to historians and anthropologists of succeeding generations.” Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1867) 190; (1878) 1077. Medina, Hispano-Americana 3403. Palau 33786: “Obra estimada e indispensable a todo americanista.” Pilling 420a. Pinart 134. Sabin 6833 & 6834. See also Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. 13, pp. 86-88. The first part of this work is an outline plan for a major new history of the Americas, with an emphasis on the calendar and history of ancient Mexico. The second (and more important) part is Boturini’s catalogue of his collection of manuscripts. After authorities in New Spain confiscated his manuscripts, Boturini was able to write the catalogue in the present work largely from memory. The present work was republished in Mexico in 1872 with a short bio-bibliographical study by Joaquín García Icazbalceta.
Italian collector-scholar and Chevalier of the Holy Roman Empire, Boturini (ca. 1702-1755) studied in Milan and later went to Vienna, England, and Portugal. In 1733 he arrived in Spain where he met the Condessa de Santibanéz (Dona Manuela de Oca Sylva y Moctezuma), who authorized him to collect a pension due to her as a direct descendant of Montezuma. While in Spain he heard about the Virgin of Guadalupe. In 1735 he sailed to New Spain, arriving in 1736 at Veracruz, where his ship capsized, but he survived. Convinced that he had been saved from death through the miraculous intervention of the Virgin of Guadalupe, he became her ardent devotee. In his colophon Boturini gives equal thanks to the Virgin and God. He began collecting documents to prove the authenticity of the Virgin’s apparition and miracles. Concluding that the most faithful records could be found among the indigenous people of Mexico, he learned Nahuatl and made trips to the interior to collect documents about the Virgin—not only her appearances and miracles, but also the history, customs, calendars, and religion of the indigenous people. He managed to collect over three hundred documents, according to his catalogue in the present work.
On his journeys he was further inspired to create a worthy tribute to the Virgin in the form of a crown of gold and jewels to adorn her statue at her shrine. He began soliciting donations, but he fell afoul of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. It did not help matters that the Spanish closely and jealously eyed foreigners within their territories. Furthermore, the church considered the manuscripts pagan and possibly dangerous. When the new Viceroy (Pedro Cebrián y Agustín, Conde de Fuenclara) was travelling to the interior from Veracruz, one of Boturini’s solicitations fell in his hands. The Viceroy concluded that Boturini had entered New Spain without permission and was soliciting funds without a proper permit. Boturini was arrested, and his collection and most of his goods and papers were confiscated. He spent ten months in prison and was sent back to Spain. On the trip back to Spain, his ship was captured by British privateers, and the rest of his possessions seized. His captors unceremoniously abandoned him on the shores of Gibraltar, and he walked to Madrid. Later he was absolved of the charges and given permission to return to Mexico. He was appointed chronicler of the Indies, but he never did return. He died in poverty, but he left a treasure trove of priceless Americana to us all.
His collection in Mexico was neglected and gradually scattered among individuals and institutions. Later Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin (1802-1891), a wealthy French historian who resided in Mexico from 1830-1840, was able to reassemble a large part of Boturini’s collection, which he took to Paris. In 1889 financial difficulties forced Aubin to sell the collection to Franco-Mexican Eugène Goupil (1831-1896), an enlightened lover and scholar of Mexico. Goupil retained the services of Eugène Boban (1834-1908) to catalogue the collection. The collection was ultimately donated the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. See Boban & Goupil herein.
The engraved portraits are finely done and rich in iconography and decoration. The symbolism in the portrait of Boturini is especially successful in capturing the essence of his amazing life and work. Franciscan engraver Matías de Irala (1680-1753), “was one of the most well-known artisans of early eighteenth-century Spain. As Andrés Ubeda de los Cobos notes, [he] developed a theological vision of art that aspires to place painting at the service of religion. Moreover, Antonio Bonet Correa reminds us that Matías de Irala was one of the most important contributors to the repertory of the late Spanish Baroque. As such, his work offers a gauge of the dominant artistic aesthetic during the reigns of the first two Bourbon Kings”—Jonathan Earl Carlyon, Andrés González de Barcía and the Creation of the Colonial Spanish American Library (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), p. 168.
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