— Copyright Dorothy Sloan 2013 —
The Most Spectacular of All Maps of Mexico City
A Grand City on a Grand Scale
297. [MAP]. GARCÍA CONDE, Diego. Plano general de la Ciudad de México levantado por el Teniente Coronel de Dragones Don Diego García Conde en el año de 1793, y grabado en el año de 1807. De orden de la misma Nobilísima Ciudad;[oversize ornate cartouche at top, with drapery and architectural devices, medallions illustrating royal arms of Spain and Mexico City, text below]; [two vignettes at lower left]: Vista I. De levante desde el camino nuevo de Vera-Cruz and Vista II. De Poniente desde el camino de Chapultepec; [between the views is a legend enclosed within botanical border, with locations keyed to numbers]; [at lower right] Dn. Rafael Ximeno y Planes, Director Gral. de la Rl. Academia de Sn. Cárlos de esta capital de México, dibujó las vistas y adornos. D Manuel López pensionado que fue del grabado en la misma R. Academia y tambien, por esta N C lo estampo. Dn. Josef Joaquín Fabregat, Director del grabado en lámina de la misma Real Academia, lo grabo]; [large table in eight columns at right with streets and other features keyed to numbers and letters]. [Mexico, 1807]. Copper-engraved wall map on nine separate joined sheets of heavy paper within restrained botanical border. Scale decorated with swags at lower right. Neat line to neat line: 152.4 x 200.6 cm; 60 x 79 inches; overall sheet size (not including tab at upper left): 160 x 203.2 cm; 63 x 80 inches. (5 feet 3 inches by 6 feet, 8 inches). Scale: One inch = approximately 100 Spanish varas. A completely unsophisticated copy with only a few minor neat repairs and reinforcement along outer edges. Because of the large size of the map, some copies are varnished and on rollers. Copies are frequently found in deteriorated or heavily repaired condition with losses, but this copy is missing nothing, and, in fact, has lain folded for most of its existence. The versos of three of the sheets have duplicate printings of various sections of the map, specifically the upper central panel and the lower left and right panels. This is a most desirable copy of a rare and important map, one of the finest ever made of Mexico City.
First and only printing in large format (the plates for this map were destroyed and lost, but the map was republished in much smaller format in London in 1811, and again in New York in 1830). Carrera Stampa, Planos de la Ciudad de Mexico 245. Cartografía de Ultramar 57 (illustrated in plate vol. on four leaves; lengthy list of toponymns). Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, El Territorio Mexicano II, p. 761 (illustrated). Lombardo, Atlas histórico de la ciudad de México, plate 144. Mathes, Illustration in Colonial Mexico: Woodcuts and Copper Engravings in New Spain, 1539-1821, Register 9989. Museo Nacional de Historia Castillo de Chapultepec, Mapas y Planos de México Siglos XVI al XIX, p. 125. Orozco y Berra, Materials para una cartografie Mexicana, p. 262: “Hermoso grabado en grande escala.” Orozco y Berra, Memoria para el plano de la cuidad de México XXVIII (pp. 10-11). Palau 98695 (incorrectly ascribing the map to Pedro García Conde). Tamayo & Alcorta, Catalogo de la Exposición de Cartografía Mexicana 73. An excellent study on the map is: Elías Trabulse Atala, et al, Una Visión científica y artística de la ciudad de México: el plano de la capital virreinal (1793-1807) de Diego García Conde (México City: Grupo Carso, 2003). See also Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers (revised edition), Vol. II, p. 135.
Diego Garcia Conde’s Plano general de la Ciudad de México is the most spectacular of all maps of Mexico City, and is probably the most important plan drawn of Mexico City in the nineteenth century, not only because of its size, but also for the excellence of the artists involved in its production. This grand plan became the source for many others, as it was copied and updated numerous times, though never again on this scale. The plan, conceived and created at one of the grand moments in the history of Mexico City, is also one of the most unusual examples of Mexican printing—nothing of this size had previously been engraved in Mexico.
The original survey for this plan of Mexico City took place in 1793, during the viceregal administration of Conde de Revillagigedo. His administration, one of the most progressive of the colonial era, resulted in urban development and renewal—including construction and renovation of numerous public buildings and parks; improved sanitation, lighting, and security; construction of roads and streets; and establishment of professional schools (such as the Academy of San Carlos, where this map was produced).
The creation of this grand map pooled the talents and skills of three of the most talented persons in Mexico at that time. The mapmaker was Diego García Conde (1760-1822), a native of Barcelona who came to Mexico and served as captain of the Spanish Dragoons in Mexico and fought the insurgents during the War of Independence. García Conde supervised several complex construction projects, including the road from Veracruz to Jalapa. In 1822 he was named director general of the Corps of Engineers and founded the Academy of Cadets. Dicc. Porrúa (p. 1156) specifically mentions the present map as one of his great achievements: “Su nombre está ligado a la historia de la cd. de México, por el magnífico plano que levantó de metrópoli in 1793.” Palau combines in one entry Diego García Conde and an entirely different mapmaker, Pedro García Conde (see Handbook of Texas Online for details on Pedro García Conde [1806-1851], commissioner of the Mexican Boundary Survey in 1848). The revised edition of Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers corrects its former entry on García Conde and mentions the present map.
The engraver of the map was José Joaquín Fabregat (1748-1807), a native of Valencia. In 1787, the Spanish crown named Fabregat director of engraving at the Royal Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. Here Fabreget instituted the highest standards for printing and engraving, introducing the most advanced techniques from Europe. The recognition of engraving as an art and royal patronage led to unprecedented expansion of the arts outside of Madrid. Among those participating in this flourishing era of engraving was Rafael Jimeno y Planés (1759-1825), the Valencia artist who created the exquisite vignettes at the lower section of this map. Jimeno y Planés studied in Rome, Madrid, and Mexico (Academy of San Carlos). In 1798 he became director of painting at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico, and subsequently, director general. Jimeno created the engravings for the 1780 edition of Don Quijote, the famous engraving of the Plaza Mayor de México (adapted by Humboldt), grand murals, and fine oil paintings. An article on Jimeno y Planés appears in Dicc. Porrúa. For additional information on Fabreget, see Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers (1979 edition) and Dicc. Porrúa (p. 1046).
Even hyperbole would fail to capture the magnificence and importance of this map, probably the most significant iconographic and technical production of all Mexican engraving up until its time, combining as it does the underlying superb and professional depictions of the city with the great skills of those who executed the engraving and printing. The map is a monument to cartography, surpassing even those maps produced in the elite centers of the art, such as London, Paris, and New York. The detail and accuracy of its depiction have rarely been surpassed in modern times.
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