Exceptionally Vivid View of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak

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31. [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: COLORADO SPRINGS & PIKES PEAK]. [WELLGE, Henry (attributed)]. Pikes Peak Panorama. [below image, at right] Copyrighted by the American Publishing Co. Milwaukee, U.S.A. Milwaukee: American Publishing Company, n.d. [ca. 1890, per Reps]. Chromolithograph showing Colorado Springs and looking west towards the Front Range of the Rockies with Pikes Peak in the distance. Image: 38.6 x 106.2 cm; image with title: 45.2 x 106.2 cm; overall sheet size. 60.3 x 121.5 cm. Professionally cleaned, freshly mounted on archival tissue consolidating a few marginal tears including one that extends into image at right (barely visible and no losses), overall fine with vivid color retention.

     First edition. Reps, Cities on Stone, p. 95. Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, Color Plate 10 & #474 (attributing the view to Henry Wellge and locating copies at Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Denver Public Library, Library of Congress, and NewYork Historical Society). This handsome city view with heights and river in foreground looks west toward snow-capped Pike’s Peak in the distance. The city of Colorado Springs is well laid out on a grid pattern with bustling factories and numerous smoking locomotives passing through. Except for a couple of trolley cars, however, the streets are amazingly deserted. The town is so dwarfed by the landscape that it looks almost like a perfect miniature city.

     Reps (Views and Viewmakers) includes the American Publishing Company as one of the lithograph firms having unusual and skillful coloring that created consistently superior work with chromolithographs. Henry Wellge (1850-1917), artist, lithographer, architect, draftsman, and publisher founded the American Publishing Company. Reps cites Wellge’s works as examples of popular art in America during the Victorian era deserving more merit than accorded them by Henry T. Peters. Reps believes that I.N. Phelps (The Iconography of Manhattan Island) had a better understanding of popular prints and cherished them as graphic evidence of American cities in the late nineteenth century, more important for historical documentation than artistic excellence. The present view of Colorado Springs satisfies on both levels, in our opinion, by presenting the naturally gorgeous sweep of the Front Range of the green and blue Rockies, with majestic Pikes Peak at the center background covered with snow against a backdrop of light slate grey mountains in the distance and pale blue sky streaked with white clouds. In the Front Range are the distinctive Pikes Peak granite formations in shades of fiery brick red that capture the light. The lush green of the valley and town is intertwined with clear blue streams and the river. In the foreground are craggy grey boulders and tall trees in shades of green and rust. The composition is dramatic, the artist having chosen a perspective that leads the eye straight up from the main street of the town to Pikes Peak. Reps’ article on Wellge (pp. 213-214) ranks him with the most prolific of the city view artists of America, and singles out the present print for its skillful use of printing multiple colors in dramatic tones of ink that resembled oil colors. Truly, this chromolithograph view is accurate while imparting a sensibility of the Luminist School of painting as exhibited by artist Fitz Hugh Lane.


Sold. Hammer: $9,000.00; Price Realized: $11,025.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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