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October 26, 2007

Triumphal Franco-Mexican Iconography
Celebrating Mexican Independence from Spain

170. [MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE]. BASTIN, [Ferdinand?] (artist). [Lower center] Iturbide y los generales de el ejército mexicano. [above neat line at top] Dedicado a la nación [signed in image at lower left]: Fd. Bastin [below image] Julio Michaud y Thomas, Mexico. | Imp. Lemercier à Paris. N.p., n.d. [Paris?, 1840s?]. Lithograph with original hand coloring and gilt highlights (illustrating Emperor Agustín de Iturbide’s entry into Mexico City, panel below image with portraits of 25 identified military leaders, including Antonio López de Santa-Anna and Vicente Filisola). Image area including dedication note at top and title below: 44.1 x 53.5 cm; neat line to neat line (including portraits below primary image): 40.8 x 53.5 cm; primary image: 35.8 x 53.5 cm. Trimmed close at top with slight loss of tops of letters of dedication, marginal darkening, water stain at lower left (affecting small section of image), some creasing and abrasions (slight losses), old cloth backing along margins. Very rare; the only other copy we have seen was a proof copy in a private collection (in poor condition).

            First edition of a great nineteenth-century print of Mexico. Mayer, México ilustrado, pp. 98-99 (illustrated). This exceptionally well-executed print shows the triumphal September 27, 1821, entry of Iturbide and the Mexican Army into Mexico City, dressed in glittering uniforms and mounted on handsomely caparisoned steeds, all of which proceed in a cloud of dust. By 1822, Santa-Anna was in a revolt against Iturbide that led to the Emperor’s downfall. In 1833 Santa-Anna initiated a movement in Mexico to revive the reputation of Iturbide, the man who did finally achieve Mexican independence from Spain. In 1838 Iturbide’s ashes were transferred to Mexico, ceremoniously placed in an urn, and his place assured as a hero of Independence. This print may have been created as a part of that movement, or shortly thereafter, although it is difficult to date the image.

            There is nothing specific on the print to date it, but Michaud y Thomas were active from around the time of the Mexican-American War to within a decade after the California Gold Rush. Mathes (Mexico on Stone, p. 28) comments: “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, La Litografía en México, p. 21].” Although Michaud’s firm was responsible for some great lithographs of Mexico, Michaud was above all an entrepreneur. Michaud’s partner, known only as “Thomas,” seems as little known to history as the artist Bastin who created the present work. (It has been suggested that Michaud’s surname was Michaud y Thomas.)

            Like some of the images in the Album pintoresco, the present lithograph has the French imprint of Lemercier along with the Michaud firm in Mexico. Lemercier, the leading lithography firm in Paris at mid-century, is well known in Americana iconography for the exceptionally fine plates in the Kendall-Nebel Mexican-American War portfolio (Palau 188868; Tyler, The Mexican War: A Lithographic Record, pp. 11 & 18) and Nebel’s iconic album on Mexico, published at Paris in 1836 and republished in 1839 (Palau 188866-7). Artist Bastin also created images of the Mexican-American War found in Michaud’s Album pintoresco de la República Mexicana, Mexico, ca. 1850 (Palau 5417). He is probably Ferdinand Bastin, who collaborated with Lemercier and others on military prints created in Paris in the 1850s. “Nothing is known about Bastin, but judging from the quality of his work he was a very skilled draftsman.... Bastin may have worked as a lithographer in Paris for Lemercier” (Martha A. Sandweiss, Rick Stewart, and Ben W. Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum & Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989, p. 149).

            Dr. W. Michael Mathes commented on this print: “While the group of generals entering Mexico was illustrated on various occasions, their identification is unique in this litho.”

            This handsome print is of interest to Texas history in a peripheral way, in that it depicts three men pivotal to Texas history at a great moment before they went on to play their roles. Mexican Emperor Iturbide (1783-1824) “signed the first permit for the settlement of Anglo-Americans in Texas for Stephen F. Austin’s colony” (Handbook of Texas Online: Agustín de Iturbide). The print also has youthful portraits of Santa-Anna and Filisola. The former will always remain a person of interest to Texas history and needs no introduction (Handbook of Texas Online: Antonio López de Santa Anna). Leading Mexican military figure Filisola (1789-1850) obtained an empresario grant in Texas in 1831, was named commander of the Eastern Provincias Internas in 1833, served as Santa-Anna’s second in command at the pivotal Battle of San Jacinto, and wrote the best account of the Texas Revolution from the Mexican perspective (Handbook of Texas Online: Vicente Filisola). See under Filisola in this catalogue for his Memorias para la historia de la guerra de Tejas. ($1,000-2,000)

Sold. Hammer: $3,000.00; Price Realized: $3,525.00

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