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Very Rare Mexican Fandango Lithograph


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241.     IRIARTE, Hesiquio. El Fandango Mexicano. (El Jarave.) [signed in print in lower part of image near center] Yriarte 1847. [below neat line] Lithga. de M. Murguia. | Propriedad del Editor. | Iriarte Invento. [Mexico: Murguía, 1847]. Uncolored lithograph of crowded fandango scene. Image: 25 x 38.5 cm; image and line border: 25.8 x 39.3 cm; image, border, and title: 28.5 x 39.3 cm; overall sheet size: 36.5 x 53.5 cm. Moderately foxed (more noticeable in margins), light waterstaining affecting upper left section, four tears expertly repaired (mostly marginal, although one tear extends into image and title, but without losses). Professionally washed and restored. Very rare, a remarkable survival.

     First edition. Not in standard sources. This is a separately issued lithograph, not an individual plate plucked from a lithographic album, such as the fandango plate in Castro’s México y sus alrededores albums (1855-1856), which can be found separately on the market from time to time. This lithograph is the first large-format lithograph of the Mexican fandango, and would serve as a model for subsequent fandango plates, including an almost immediate knockoff by Currier and Ives (El Fandango Mexicano, El Jarave. Mexican Fandango, 1848; see Item 242 following). It is interesting to speculate how Iriarte’s image came so quickly into the hands of Currier and Ives, but perhaps someone who was in Mexico purchased the print to bring back to the States. We do know that some of the Mexican lithographers whose presses were not entirely co-opted by the U.S. Army made prints meant to appeal as souvenirs for soldiers to purchase. Published accounts by U.S. soldiers document their warm memories of the fandango, so a fandango print would certainly be an appealing way for an enterprising Mexican lithographic shop to divest the Yanquis of a few centavos. Enough diverting speculation, and on to the facts….

     This lively image reflects the humanity, sociability, indomitable spirit, and material culture of the Mexico we love. In a large, high-ceiling hall is a teeming crowd of happy revelers—drinking, preparing food, eating, playing music, waving hats, singing, clapping hands, and at center, a beautifully attired coy lady dancer with flirtatious eyes who daintily lifts her gorgeous skirt—just a little bit. Her handsome, graceful, and virile partner dressed in full charro garb glances down at his partner’s delicate hands. The details of costume of the dancers and onlookers are incredible. To the right of the dancing couple stands another couple just as lavishly attired, but differently enough to interest someone studying costume history or china poblana. The man is smoking, and behind the couple is another lady who is also smoking (resonating Nebel’s provocative image of Mexican female smokers; see Item 435 herein). On the wall at the back hang a lasso, bridle, and spurs, and in the right foreground is a saddle, next to a cat hissing at an indifferent dog. Details of the harp, mandolin, and guitar of the three seated musicians at left are accurately delineated. Adorning the wall at left is an elegantly framed image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, below which are a crucifix and three other prints or sketches tacked to the wall. The print recedes at the center rear to a large open wooden door, revealing a landscape suffused in light and a grand pile of Mexican colonial architecture atop a high hill.

     One can only wonder how it could be that such a joyful image was created by a Mexican in the midst of the horrors and tragedies of the Yanqui Invasión.

     The image was created by Hesiquio Iriarte (ca. 1820-1897?), who was, arguably, the finest lithographer in nineteenth-century Mexico. Iriarte’s earliest major productions were the numerous plates in the extraordinary four-volume El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1842) and lithographs in El Gallo Pitagórico (Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1845). He also produced excellent plates for Apuntes Históricos de la Heroica Ciudad de Vera-Cruz (Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1850) with an extraordinary portrait of Fernando Cortés, De Miramar a México (Orizaba: J. Bernardo Aburto, 1864) with an outstanding image of Maximilian, and La Orquesta: Periódico omniscio, de buen humor y con caricaturas, the first Mexican periodical to employ graphic political satire in a significant way, and a premier illustrated political periodical for any time or place in history [see our Auction 21, Item 218]. Spanning a half-century, the role of Iriarte in Mexican lithography cannot be overstated. See Mathes, Mexico on Stone, and Dicc. Porrúa for more on Iriarte.

     In 1847 Iriarte joined Manuel Murguía’s newly established typography and lithography shop at Portal del Águila de Oro (Mathes, Mexico on Stone, p. 24, Dicc. Porrúa). The long-lived Murguía firm created some marvelous lithographic books, such as Los Mexicanos Pintados por sí mismos (1854-1855) and Los Conventos Suprimidos de México (1861; see Item 483 herein). The Murguía firm was also a prolific publisher of sheet music, some of which featured illustrations of different types of dance. Here Murguìa’s scores of lithographed music and dance are visually brought to life for the pleasure of the viewer.




Auction 22 Abstracts

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