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Copper-Engraved plate of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles & Her Church

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452.     PEÑUELAS, Pablo Antonio. Breve noticia de la Prodigiosa Imagen de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, que por espacio de dos siglos se ha conservado pintada en una pared de adove, y se venera en su Santuario extramuros de México. Escrita Por El Br. Don Pablo Antonio Peñuelas, Presbiterio de este Arzobispado, y Traductor general de Letras Apostólicas. A Devoción de D. Joseph De Haro Primero y perpetuo Mayordomo de dicho Santuario por el Illmô. Sr. Dr. D. Alonso Núñez de Haro y Peralta, del Consejo de S.M. dígnisimo Arzobispo de México, á quien la dedica. Impresa en México, por D. Felipe y Zúñiga y Ontiveros, calle de la Palma, año de 1781. Mexico: Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1781. [14], 1-103 [3] pp., title printed in red and black, copper-engraved plate of the image and the church exterior: Vista perspectiva del Santvuario Ð N. Sra. de los Angeles en México, cuyas aumentos se dev. a la divisa. prova. y piedad de los bien echores en el corto tiempo de quatro años q’ an corrido, desde el ao. de 1776. en q. se promovió èsta devoción hasta este de 1780. en q’ ase 200 años dl. origen de la Sta. Imag. y 185 de la ereción e capilla ses primitivo Oratoro. [lower right outside neat line] Villasre. sc. 8vo (15 x 10 cm), contemporary limp vellum with rawhide ties, sepia ink “Z” on upper spine, small marca de fuego on upper edge of text block. Lightly stained with remains of two old paper labels on spine and upper cover. Gutter margin and some text wormed throughout with minor loss to plate and some letters. Overall a good copy of a small work reprinted several times.

     First edition. Beristain II, p. 415. Mathes, Illustration in Colonial Mexico, Woodcuts and Copper Engravings in New Spain 1539-1821, Register No. 1781:7252. Medina, México 7252 (incorrectly calling for six preliminary leaves). Palau 217732. Porrúa 7814. Bibliotheca Mejicana 1354. Sabin 60841. Sutro, p. 26. This is a history of a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary and the church in which it was placed. Although its origins are obscure, it is believed, according to Peñuelos, that during devastating Mexico City flood in 1580 an image of the Virgin was brought by the flood waters and fell into the hands of the cacique Isayoque, who decided to venerate the image, known as the “Asunción de Isayoque.” At some point, he ordered the image copied onto an adobe wall in a small church known as la capillita de Coatlán, and this is the image that endured until the time of this book’s publication.      The work concludes with a poem, “Parabien del impresor a D. Joseph de Haro,” to the dedicatee.

     The engraver of the plate is unknown, but the artist was Villaseñor. The plate is an atypical one because it is an example, apparently, of unabashed boosterism for the chapel itself and the Virgin’s image. The top half of the plate is taken up by an image of the Virgin in ascension. The bottom half, however, shows carriages and crowds milling around the plaza in front of the church, apparently in an effort either to portray the popularity of the place or to promote it as a popular shrine. Noteworthy is the fine detail and unusual rendering of perspective, which almost resembles a bird’s-eye view of the plaza and church in Mexico City in 1781. The church still stands.

     The Library of Congress 2004 Annual Report calls this book (published the same year as the founding of Los Angeles, California) “an early history of Los Angeles” (p. 62). The book, however, does not relate to the humble pueblo cum beta world city, except in a very peripheral way, and even then, controversy abounds about the city’s original name. Many places were named Los Angeles, all after the Virgin venerated here. Dr. W. Michael Mathes advises: “There is no relation at all between this book and the founding of Los Angeles, California.” For further information, consult web site.


Sold. Hammer: $1,400.00; Price Realized: $1,680.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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