Champ d’Asile—Rare, Early Print of Texas

The French Invade Texas Again

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86. [CHAMP D’ASILE]. CHASSELAT [Charles Abraham] (artist) & [Claude Joseph] Pomel (engraver). Champ d’Asile. [lower left below image] Chasselat Del. [lower right below image] Pomel Sculp. [four lines of text commencing] Puisse le champ d’Asile cette création d’une origine pure et sans tache; cette retraite dont l’institution le but et le nom rappellent les asiles anciens.... [below text] A Paris chez Bulla Rue St. Jacques No. 38 et chez Ladvocat, Libraire, Palais Royal, galerie de bois Nos 197 et 198. | Deposé aux Bureau des Estampes. [Paris, 1818]. Aquatint engraving, neat line to neat line: 19 x 27.5 cm; image area: 25 x 27.5 cm; overall size 28 x 32 cm. Small paper flaw in lower right blank margin not affecting image, left margin somewhat irregular, slightly browned, washed and stabilized. Rare.

     First edition. Bibliographie de la France, ou Journal Général de l’Imprimerie et de la Librairie, 1819, p. 189, #204.De Vinck, Inventaire Analytique 10269. Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas, 1554-1900 1.11. See Handbook of Texas Online: Champ d’Asile. A complete copy of a rare Texas scene. Except for one other, all located copies are defective because the imprint has been shaved off. Artist and engraver Charles Abraham Chasselat (1782-1843) won several prizes and illustrated works by Racine and Voltaire. Engraver and printer Claude Joseph Pomel (1781-1839) engraved the print. Both are listed in Bénézit.

     In this scene of prosperity and industry, meant to promote and advertise the new colony on the Trinity River in Texas, one man industriously hews a log, another works a saw, and others work in the background. In the middle ground, a group of new arrivals is enthusiastically greeted. In the right foreground, a mother nurses her child while its father caresses its feet. Many of the figures are in military uniforms. The scene is totally fanciful, having been produced in Paris by Romantic propagandists.

     This French settlement had electrifying results in France, the U.S., Spain, and Mexico. Founded and peopled by Bonapartist refugees and warmly supported in certain quarters in France, the colony lasted barely six months after its establishment in 1818. Because of the venture, the Neutral Zone along the Louisiana-Texas border was abolished by the Adams-Onís Treaty signed the next year. Lafitte was also forced from Galveston because he had helped the settlers. Spain and her Mexican colony sent troops to capture the colonists, who retreated before the troops could arrive towards Galveston, where they came to a fairly miserable dénouement before dispersing entirely. In France, the colony set off a wave of enthusiastic support that led to considerable financial gifts for its support and increased opposition to Louis XVIII. Despite all the hype and hoopla, the colony probably never had more than 150 persons present, and its mythical reputation dwarfed its reality. In his forthcoming work on Texas lithographs, Ron Tyler remarks that the Champ d’Asile images are “a splendid representation of the Romanticism of the era and stimulated the earliest, and in many ways, the best and most fascinating lithographs of early Texas.”


Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $918.75.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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