AUCTION 23

 
 

“The largest single source of printed images based on the Mexican view of the [Mexican-American] War” (Ben W. Huseman in: “Eyewitness to War”)

 
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457. MICHAUD, Julio & Jean Baptiste Thomas (publishers). [BASTIN, Ferdinand, Pierre-Frédéric Lehnert, et al (artists)]. Album pintoresco de la Republica Mexicana. Mexico: Hallase en la Estampería de Julio Michaud y Thomas antigua Casa del Correo Calle San-Francisco, No 10, n.d. [ca. 1850]. [2, uncolored lithograph title] plus 45 lithograph plates, 12 of which are full color with gum arabic highlights, 33 on tinted grounds (views, Mexican-American War battle scenes, costume groups, interiors, pastimes) by Lehnert, Castillos, López Urbano, Bastin, or unattributed (some modeled after Nebel, Gualdi, and others). Oblong folio (34 x 46.5 cm), later three-quarter dark green cloth over original green printed boards (recased). Boards chipped and stained, plates with some marginal soiling and neat repairs on verso of plates (none touching images), plate images superb. 1938 ink inscription of O. Burchard and notes in German. Very rare.

     First edition. The album is undated, but shows battles scenes of the Mexican-American War (1846-1847) and depicts the equestrian statue of Carlos IV in the courtyard of the University, from where it was removed in 1852. The number of plates varies, from 39 to 49 (the work appears to have been issued on an on-demand basis, like the Castro albums, see herein). The Mellon copy at Yale has 39 plates, and, in their cataloguing, Yale refers to the book as the “first major color plate book produced in Mexico.” The Bancroft Library holds a copy with 49 plates. The copies at the University of Texas and the University of Missouri (St. Louis) have 45 plates, like our copy. The only other copy we locate on OCLC is one at the National Library of Art in Britain. The DeGolyer copy at SMU is not present in OCLC, but their copy has 45 plates. The best study of this work is the Condumex reprint edited by W. Michael Mathes in 2000.

     Hispanic Society Library, Vol. I, p. 200 (dated 1853). Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 28: “Estampería de Julio Michaud y Thomas, Frente del Correo and San Francisco 10 produced the Album pintoresco de la República Mexicana with chromolithographs possibly printed outside of Mexico [according to Toussaint]”; 56 (cited in bibliography); 64 (Michaud). Palau 5417. Toussaint, La Litografía en Mexico, p. 21. Not in the standard Mexican-American War bibliographies, but Ben W. Huseman in the Amon Carter exhibit, Eyewitness to War, p. 127 comments: “The largest single source of printed images based on the Mexican view of the war is contained in Album Pintoresco de la República Méxicana... Of these forty-five lithographed plates...six depict battle scenes from the war.” Not in Hiler or Lipperheide.

     Some of the plates are dissonant combinations of elements from Gualdi, Nebel, and Phillips with skewed perspective. The attributed lithographic firms, all of Paris, are Lemercier (who published both of Nebel’s grand works; see items herein), Prudhomme (oddly enough misspelled as Prodhomme on the prints), and François-Benjamin Vayron. The plates signed by Urbano López are sometimes considered excellent. Dicc. Porrúa praises López for his originality and technique, both of which reflect and embody a unique Mexican perspective. On the other hand, Toussaint while admitting some of the plates are good, refers to other López plates as “intolerables” (p. 21). The contributions of Pierre-Frédéric Lehnert (see Bénézit), on the other hand, are more formal and studied (Dicc. Porrúa). Lehnert, a Parisian by birth, was an artist, engraver and lithographer who lived in Mexico for a number of years. The first colored plates in the book are by Lehnhert, as are several of the superior plates of Mexican-American War scenes. These latter views are uniformly praised for their beauty and technique. Three of the Mexican-American War plates signed by Bastin are the work Ferdinand Bastin, who collaborated with Lemercier and others on military prints created in Paris in the 1850s (see our Auction 21, Item 170 for Bastin’s print Iturbide y los generales de el ejército mexicano). “Nothing is known about Bastin, but judging from the quality of his work he was a very skilled draftsman [and] may have worked as a lithographer in Paris for Lemercier” (Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, p. 149).

     According to Julio Romo Michaud, descendant of the publisher, Michaud was born in Paris in 1807 and arrived in Mexico circa 1837. He collaborated with Agustín Massé, J. Decaen, and Pedro Gualdi on the important lithographed album Monumentos de México (Mexico, 1841; see herein). Later he partnered with Desiré Charnay and Alfred Briquet and published the first photography album made in Mexico, Album Fotográfico Mexicano (Mexico 1858), with text by Manuel Orozco y Berra. Michaud’s partner was Jean Baptiste Thomas, who was also French. See also Peter E. Palmquist & Thomas R. Kailbourn, Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide: A Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865, p. 435: “From the 1830s until the 1860s, Julio Michaud, a native of France, was a publisher and bookseller in Mexico City. In the 1830s he began publishing lithographs, and in 1850 his firm, Julio Michaud y Thomas, published Album pintoresco de la república méxicana.... After the advent of photography, he was a dealer in photographic chemicals and stereographic views and, eventually, a photographer himself.”

     The six Mexican-American War views are at the end of the book, suggesting that they were added to the original assemblage of 39 plates. They are as follows:

[40] [Above image] Mexico Pintoresco [below image] Castillo de Chapultepec 1847. | Julio Michaud y Thomas Editores, Junto al Correo Mejico. | Imp. LeMercier à Paris. Signed in image: F. Lehnert. On toned grey ground. Image only: 24 x 36.3 cm; image + text above and below image: 29 x 36.3 cm. Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, p. 334 (mentions that the print probably copies a Sarony & Major lithograph).

[41] [Above image] Mexico Pintoresco [below image] Churubusco 1847. | Julio Michaud y Thomas Editores, Junto al Correo Mejico. | Imp. LeMercier à Paris. Signed in image: F. Lehnert. On toned grey ground. Image only: 25 x 36.2 cm; image + text above and below image: 29 x 36.2 cm.

[42] [Above image at top right] No. 1. [below image] Héroica défensa de la cieudad [sic] de Monterey [sic] contra el Egercito norte Américano, El. 23 de Septiembre [sic] 1846. | Julio Michaud y Thomas Mexico. Signed in image: F. Bastin. On beige ground. Image only: 20 x 31.5 cm; image + text above and below image: 23.4 x 31.5 cm. Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, p. 127 (#15), illustrated p. 128: “This view of street fighting during the third day of the siege of Monterrey is similar to a lithograph produced in 1846 by Sarony & Major. It may ultimately derive from a European source; Ron Tyler [The Mexican War: A Lithograph Record, p. 24] has pointed out the similarities between the Sarony & Major print and the works of Eugène Delacroix that depict the fighting on the barricades during the revolution of 1830. Bastin’s work is so generalized that there is no likelihood that it was taken from an on-the-spot sketch.”

[43] [Above image at top right] No. 2. [below image] Batalla del Sacramento terrible Cargo de los Lanceros Mexicanos, contra el Egercito norte Américano El 28 de Febrero, 1847. | Julio Michaud y Thomas Mexico. Signed in image at lower left: F. Bastin. On beige ground. Image only: 20 x 31.5 cm; image + text above and below image: 23.4 x 31.5 cm. Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, p. 149 (#31), illustrated on p. 150: “This lithograph...demonstrates how widely different artists’ interpretations of an event may vary.... General Condé’s Mexican lancers are shown overwhelming the Missouri artillery, with the bodies of dead and wounded Americans being trampled in the foreground. In the background, Mexican infantry are shown pursuing a body of American infantry in full retreat. According to all American accounts, however, the charge of the Mexican lancers was broken up before they reached the American guns, and it was the Mexicans who turned and ran.”

[44] [Below image] Defense de Cerro Gordo contra el Ejercito Norte Americano El 18 Abril 1847. | Julio Michaud y Thomas Mexico. Signed in image at lower right: F. Bastin. On beige ground. Image only: 19.4 x 31 cm; image + text above and below image: 22.5 x 31 cm.

[45] [Below image] Heróica defensa de la garita de Belen El dia 13 de Setiembre 1847. | Julio Michaud y Thomas Mexico. Signed in image at lower left: F. Bastin. On beige ground. Image only: 20.4 x 31 cm; image + text above and below image: 23 x 31 cm.

This very rare Mexican plate book occupies its own unique place in the evolutionary sequence of Mexican iconography.

($8,000-12,000)

Auction 23 Abstracts

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