AUCTION 23

 
 

“The rarest lithographs of the war”—Tyler

 
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433. [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. WHITING, D[aniel] P[owers]. Monterey, As seen from a house-top in the main-Plaza, (to the west.) October, 1846. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1847 by D.P. Whiting in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York. G. & W. Endicott Lit. N.Y.; [below neat line at left] D.P. Whiting, Del. Caft. [sic] 7th Inf.; [numbered key to locations to left and right of title]; [lower right] No. 1. of a Series. New York, 1847. Lithograph on light grey ground (view of Monterrey looking toward Saltillo, taken after U.S. occupation of the city). Image dimensions: 33 x 47.8 cm; image with text: 39 x 47.8 cm; entire sheet: 48.5 x 61 cm. Closed tear (approximately 18 cm) at right extending into image (no loss); another 6 cm closed tear in left margin. Otherwise excellent, professionally conserved and stabilized, strong impression.

     First printing. Eberstadt 162:910. Christensen, The U.S.-Mexican War, p. 130 (illustrated). Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, pp. 579-580. Peters, America on Stone, p. 175. Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War, pp. 124-125, Entry 12, Plate 4, p. 78: “Whiting’s portfolio was notable for its high degree of technical accomplishment and described at the time as ‘exceedingly well lithographed.’” Streeter Sale 275. Tyler, The Mexican War, A Lithographic Record, pp. 24-25. Tutorow 4393. This view is from the first edition of Whiting’s Army Portfolio (New York: G. & W. Endicott, 1847), one of the primary visual records of the Mexican-American War. The portfolio was issued with either colored or uncolored plates. Whiting’s views are considered some of the more accurate, rare, and desirable eyewitness depictions of U.S. occupation of Mexico.

     This peaceful scene overlooks the main plaza of Monterrey looking toward the mountains to the west. Cannons line the street to the left. Vendors and soldiers mill about the plaza. The architecture is expertly delineated. As is sometimes pointed out, however, the lithographers at times changed Whiting’s originals, not always for the better. In this case, for example, a soldier dressed in an outmoded uniform has apparently been added in the foreground and two boys leisurely amuse themselves on the rooftop from which the view is taken. These alterations are usually credited to Charles Fenderich, who transferred Whiting’s original work to the lithograph stone. Despite such problems, this view—and all of Whiting’s views—are considered extraordinarily accurate. The prints were executed using the latest lithographic techniques available at the time. Ron Tyler in his preliminary study of nineteenth-century Texas lithographs compares the quality of Whiting’s work to that of Audubon. Tyler states that Whiting’s views are “the rarest lithographs of the war.”

     Whiting (born in Troy, New York, 1808–died in Washington, D.C., 1892) was trained as a topographical artist and graduated from West Point in 1832. He was a career military officer who served with Taylor in Texas and the Northern Campaign during the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and later in the West (including “The Mormon Troubles”). He apparently was released from all other duties during the U.S. invasion of Mexico so that he could work on taking the views.

     According to Whiting family tradition, the work was limited to no more than 24 sets (quoted by Goodspeed’s of Boston: “The Month at Goodspeed’s Book Shop,” Vol. XXI, Nos. 2-3, November-December 1959, p. 43). This assertion seems improbable and needs more research. Although Whiting originally intended to continue the series beyond five plates, the original drawings for the additional plates were lost aboard a steamboat that sank in the Mississippi River (more antiquarian lore?). Whiting’s long-lost manuscript was recently published by Nueces Press and edited by Robert Wooster, who comments that Whiting “served on the frontiers of ‘Manifest Destiny.’” For additional views by Whiting, see following entries.

($1,000-2,000)

Sold. Hammer: $1,000.00; Price Realized: $1,225.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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