“The first drawings of Maya architecture to be published” (Wauchope)

Lithographs on India Proof Paper

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122. [DUPAIX EXPEDITION]. DUPAIX, Capitaine [Guillermo]. Antiquités Mexicaines. Relation des trois expéditions du capitaine Dupaix, ordonnées en 1805, 1806, et 1807, pour la recherche des antiquités du pays, notamment celles de Mitla et de Palenque; accompagnée des dessins de Castañ d’une carte du pays exploré; suivie d’un parallèle de ces monuments avec ceux de l’Égypte, de l’Indostan, et du reste de l’ancien monde, par M. Alexandre Lenoir...d’une dissertation sur l’origine de l’ancienne population des deux Amériques et sur les diverses antiquités de ce continent, par M. Warden...avec un discours préliminaire par M. Charles des notes explicatives, et autres documents, par MM. Baradère, de St Priest, et plusieurs voyageurs que ont parcouru l’Amérique. Paris: Au Bureau des Antiquités Mexicaines, No 55, Quai des Grands Augustins, Imprimiere de Jules Didot l’aîné, No 4, Boulevart d’enfer, 1834. Text, Part I: [4] [i-v] vi-xiv, [2] [1-3] 4-20, [1-3] 4-56, [1-3] 4-40, [1-3] 4-88 [4] pp., one plate (illustrated title); Text, Part II: [1-5] 6-82, [1-5] 6-224 [4] pp. (some pages printed in double columns in French and Spanish). Atlas: [8] pp., 32 plates; [4] pp., 69 plates; [4] pp., 46 plates on 44 leaves (one double-page); [4] pp., 9 plates; [4] pp., 10 plates on 7 leaves. Total plates in Atlas: 166 plates on 161 leaves, lithograph plates on mounted India-proof paper (archaeology, artifacts, views, plans). Total plate count including illustrated title to Vol. I: 167 plates on 162 leaves, all mounted on India proof paper. 3 vols. in 2, grand folio (54 x 37.5 cm), contemporary full tan levant morocco extra gilt, spines with raised bands, inner gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, a.e.g. Front pastedowns with engraved armorial bookplates of Welsh coal mine owner Lord Dinorbin, with crest and motto in Welsh. Slight shelf wear to binding, otherwise an exceptionally fine, complete copy, the plates superb (free of the usual foxing), and in a splendid binding. Many plates and some pages with unobtrusive small embossed medallion of a Mexican eagle.

     First edition of Dupaix’s seminal work on Mexican archaeology. The first edition is dated 1834 in both vols. Another edition came out in 1844 (mixed sets are sometimes found). Bibliographie de la France (1835) 688. Brunet I, cols. 321-322. Dumbarton Oaks, Archaeological Illustrations in America, pp. 26-27. Field 468. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1878) 1065. Palau 23069. Pilling 4082 (Warden). Sabin 40038: “An indispensable supplement to Humboldt, as it contains many interesting discoveries not in the latter work.” The work comes in three states: (1) uncolored plates; (2) plates printed on very thin, high-quality India proof paper; and (3) plates in color on regular paper. The present state with lithographs on India proof paper is the preferred state, providing a finer image with more depth than on ordinary paper. Because the technique of printing on India proof paper is extremely time-consuming, expensive, and challenging, lithographs were seldom printed in this way. Furthermore, the colored issue of the Dupaix expedition was printed on cheaper paper and is usually found with moderate to heavy foxing, browning, and chipping.

     This massive work contains the collected official reports of the Dupaix Expedition. Dupaix was one of the first Europeans to observe, describe, and illustrate the archaeological sites and artifacts of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Yucatan. In 1804 Carlos IV of Spain, at the suggestion of Alexander von Humboldt and others, ordered that exact drawings and documentation be made of any and all pre-Hispanic remains in New Spain, especially Mexico. This was only the second expedition to survey the antiquities of Mexico (see Del Rio herein). Selected to oversee this monumental task was archaeological explorer, military captain, and writer Guillermo Dupaix (born ca. 1748-1750 in Austria-Hungary, died in Mexico City in 1817—French to the core). Dupaix was born to French parents in Hungary and grew up in Spain. Dupaix joined the military at the age of fourteen, advanced to captain of the regiment of Dragoons of Almansa in 1790, and arrived in Mexico 1791. At the time Carlos IV commissioned him for the expedition, he had been retired from the military for several years. Dupaix and Humboldt met in Mexico, and Humboldt considered him well informed. Dupaix had a deep, serious interest in antiquities, but perhaps more important, he was careful, patient, and slow to theorize. Dupaix “avoided the zealous enthusiasm commonly associated with ninteenth-century Americanists” (Robert L. Brunhouse, In Search of the Maya, Ballentine Books, 1976, p. 17).

     Between 1805 and 1809 Dupaix led three expeditions in search of archaeology, accompanied by José Luciano Castañeda (artist for the National Museum of Mexico), Juan del Castillo (secretary), and an armed escort of dragoons. The first and second expeditions concentrated on Mexico’s central highlands and the Oaxaca Valley. The final expedition went east into the Guatemalan province of Chiapas, up the escarpment to Ciudad Real, north and overland to Santo Domingo de Palenque, where they entered the ruins in January 1807. As Dupaix recorded his descriptions and observations, Castañeda made twenty-seven drawings of Palenque. “Completion of the third Dupaix expedition in 1809 marks the end of the period of discovery... However, the results...would not reach print in usable form for more than a decde as other events that would profoundly affect relationships between Europe and the Americas—and the pace of scientific investigation and publication as well—were unfolding” (p. 43, David Stuart & George Stuart, Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2008).

     The reverberations of European wars and Napoleon’s success had a direct and adverse affect on Dupaix and his expedition. He repeatedly became suspect as being a French spy and at times was put under house arrest. The change in government in Mexico City meant that his passport and documents were no longer valid. Several times it was only through the influence of local governors that he was freed to continue his work. Brunhouse (p. 29) sums up Dupaix’s contributions (p. 29):

Judged against the background of his day, Dupaix was a pioneer of considerabe merit. His report and illustrations provided the most comprehensive, though somewhat miscellaneous, account of archaeological remains in Mexico for years to come.... More important than the extent and scope of his work were the qualities he brought to it. He was conscientious in his search and sympathetic to the subject; he was alive to the artistic qualities of the early cultures; and few amateurs equaled his calm, almost scientific, spirit of reporting. His examination of Palenque convinced hin of the unique character of Maya civilization. Although he confined himself mainly to description, he performed the necessary task of collecting facts about the physical remains...he helped to provide a point of departure for the study of Maya culture.

     The extraordinary plates, nearly all after the original art work (ink wash sketches, pencil rubbings, and watercolors) by José Luciano Castañeda constitute “the first drawings of Maya architecture to be published” (Wauchope). Illustrated are some archaeological remains and artifacts that have since been lost or damaged due to the turmoil and revolution which Mexico suffered for three quarters of a century. In addition to Palenque, the book covers the Zapotec-Mixtec site Mitla in Oaxaca, various Aztec remains, and other sites as well. The masterful lithographs are mostly the work of the firm of Godefroy Engelmann (1788-1839), who is largely credited with bringing lithography to France, or Englemann’s successors, Thierry Frères. The letterpress was created by Jules Didot, of the illustrious French firm of printers and publishers. The sumptuous nature of the work and its scarcity even at the time of printing was noted in a somewhat finicky manner by the North American Review (Vol. 51, No. 109, October 1840, pp. 396-433):

We certainly live in the luxurious age of printing, and this work has all the attractions which the best paper, beautiful type, and splendid engravings can give to it. The literary voluptuary may revel in this edition, and gratify his taste for letters and arts at the same time. But, if these expensive publications have their advantages in the style of execution in which they are got up, they have also their disadvantages, which are not less obvious. They cannot enter into the common mass of literature. They are too costly to be purchased, except by the few, who have a taste for the collection of rare editions, and the means of gratifying it. Here is a work, exceedingly interesting, as is evident from a mere perusal of the title page, to every American, and yet we think it possible there are more persons in the United States, who have visited some of the monuments described in it, than there are who possess the work describing them. Only one copy, as far as we are informed, has reached this country. To us, therefore, this is a sealed book.

     The value of the iconography in this work is confirmed by Lord Kingsborough’s inclusion of many of the images in the latter part of his monumental study of American antiquities (see Kingsborough herein). However, Kingsborough introduced a number of distortions into Castañeda’s drawings, making them look more Egyptian or Hebraic. The striking frontispiece to the text volume of this set captures the spirit and intent of this publication. Created by Charles François Farcy, who wrote the preliminary essay, the image depicts an ancient Mexican temple partially enveloped in clouds as two indigenous warriors stand nearby in a heavenly shaft of light. Below is a note in French that translates: “Learned research will dissipate the clouds that envelop the Mexican monuments, and will reveal to the future the history of the past.”

     In addition to the reports of Dupaix the present work contains essays by others. Marie Alexandre Lenoir (1761-1839), self-taught French archaeologist devoted to saving France’s historic antiquities from the ravages of the French Revolution, contributed an essay comparing American monuments to those of Egypt and other ancient civilizations. David Bailie Warden’s (1772-1845) composition explores the antiquities and peoples of North and South America, including the earthworks of Ohio and comparative linguistic material (Lord’s Prayer in Otomí, selections from St. Matthew and St. John in Esquimaux as spoken in Labrador and Greenland, the Cherokee alphabet, sign language used by North American Indians, etc.). French artist, printer, and writer, Charles-François Farcy (1792-1867) wrote the preliminary essay, in which he suggests that the Mesoamerican monuments are more “civilized” and in the Old World tradition than the recently discovered burial mounds of the Mississippi and Ohio Valley regions. Other minor contributors run the gamut from Humboldt to Santa-Anna.

     The work was generated under the editorship of French ecclesiastic and publisher Abbé Jean-Henri Baradère (1792-1839?), who received permission from the Mexican government to print an authorized version of Dupaix’s expeditions. Although Baradère’s version “remained more textually and pictorially faithful to the original documents, like [Kingsborough], Baradère used the text as a springboard for the reflections of scholars with no firsthand knowledge of the monuments.... These treatises bore little connection to Dupaix’s work, yet the inclusion of Warden’s essay cast Dupaix’s expeditions in a new light.... [Warden] used the Dupaix expedition to support his theory of a unified pan-American antiquity. In introducing Warden’s essay, Baradère spoke in celebratory terms of the ‘reunion’ that would shape the writings of subsequent American explorers and eventually the doctrines of the Mormon church” (pp. 35-36, R. Tripp Evans, Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination, 1820-1915, University of Texas Press, 2004). If one can peel away the accoutrements added to the basic expeditionary papers and drawings and focus on the eye-witness reports of those who were there—Dupaix and Castañeda—it becomes clear that Dupaix was indeed a pioneer of considerable merit.

The map called for on the title page, which certainly appeared in the 1844 edition, does not appear in the contents lists for either volume of the 1834 edition. Sabin does not call for it, and Leclerc records it at the end of part 2 (which was from the 1844 edition in his copy). Palau and OCLC report it in some copies of the 1834 edition, but it was apparently not yet ready when the book first appeared. The reports of Palau and OCLC may be in error, with some cataloguers mistaking plans for maps.


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