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A French Colonist in Mexico—Early Lithographs by Cumplido

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195.     FOSSEY, Mathieu de. Viaje a Méjico por Mathieu de Fossey, traducido del francés. Mexico: Imprenta de Ignacio Cumplido, Calle de los Rebeldes número 2, 1844. [1-3] 4-363 [1, blank] pp., 6 lithograph plates of Mexican scenes, one after a view by Heredia. 8vo (20.5 x 13.5 cm), contemporary half Mexican sheep over brown marbled boards, spine gilt lettered and decorated. Neatly re-backed, original spine preserved, interior with scattered light foxing, plates moderately foxed. With blind stamp of José M. Robles on the title page. Rare.

Plates (with dimensions of image area):

Vista en el alto Goatzacoalco. [at lower right] Imprenta litog. de Cumplido. 9 x 14 cm.

Un nuevo Robinson. [at lower right] Imprenta litog. de Cumplido. 14 x 9 cm.

Corrida de toros en la plaza de San Pablo. [at lower right] litog. de Cumplido. Signed in image J. Heredia. 8.6 x 13.8 cm.

Vista del palacio de Chapultepec. [at lower right] Imprenta litog. de Cumplido. 8.6 x 13.8 cm.

Cascada de Regla. [at lower right] Imprenta litog. de Cumplido. 13.8 x 9 cm.

Fachada del palacio principal de Mitla. 8 x 12.6 cm.

     First edition, probably translated into Spanish from his original manuscript in French. Fernández Ledesma, Historia crítica de la tipografía en la ciudad de México, p. 76: “[Cumplido] publica la obra de Mathieu de Fossey, Viage a Méjico, obtiene una pulcra edición hecha con gracioso tipo británico ligero y con buenas litografías fuera de texto.” Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 23 (mentioning book in text); 56 (listed in bibliography); 63 (Cumplido). Palau 93968. Porrúa V:6853: “Muy interesante la que representa una corrida de toros en la plaza de San Pablo.” Sabin 25192. Toussaint, La litografía en México, p. xix.

     This book is especially valuable for its early Mexican lithographs by Ignacio Cumplido, at least one of which is after Joaquín Heredia’s art work. Fossey (1805-1870), a disillusioned Frenchman, came to Mexico in 1831 with a group of his fellow countrymen to establish a colony at Coatzacoalcos on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. He was enthusiastic about settling Europeans in the country, although the enterprise eventually failed due to the organizers’ unrealistic promises and claims. Fossey spent much of his remaining life throughout Mexico, living in Veracruz, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Colima, and Mexico City. He returned to France only briefly, although he died there. His books on Mexico are admired and read to this day. Even though he had the typical European view that Mexico needed European influence to succeed, he was in many ways atypical because he became so involved in his adopted country and tried to understand it in more than a casual, passing way. He spent twenty-five years of his life in Mexico.

     Fossey’s book contains astute observations on Native Americans, archaeology, mining, social differences, etc. Fossey was ahead of his time in believing that no society could be fully understood without considering its natural environment and the effect on its inhabitants.


Sold. Hammer: $650.00; Price Realized: $780.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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