Graphic Engravings Available in No Other Edition

The Revolt which Created the First Independent Nation in Latin America

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121. DUBROCA, [Jean]-Louis. Vida de J.J. Dessalines, gefe de los negros de Santo Domingo; con notas muy circunstanciadas sobre el origen, caracter y atrocidades de los principales gefes de aquellos rebeldes desde el principio de la insurreccion en 1791. Traducido del frances por D.M.G.C. Año de 1805. Reimprimese por Don Juan Lopez Cancelada editor de La Gazeta de esta N.E. Mexico: En la Oficina de D. Mariano de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1806. [4] 1-10, 1-18, [2] 19-106 pp., frontispiece and 9 copper-engraved plates (portraits and historical scenes) by José Simón de Larrea and Manuel López López. 4to (20.5 x 14.8 cm), contemporary full Mexican tree sheep, beige leather spine label, spine gilt, sprinkled edges. Binding peeling in a few spots and worn at corners, mild shelf wear; interior with light to moderate soiling and a few tears repaired (last leaf with extensive old repair), but overall very good.

Plate List

Biasou | Primer Gefe de los Negros de Santo Domingo. [below image] Rea Grao. Circular oval bust portrait in full military uniform. Frontispiece.

Louverture | Capitain de Guardias de Baisoy y despues General | en gefe de la Isla de Sto Domingo, fue arrestado y lleva | do á francia. [below image] Rea grao. en Mo. Circular oval bust portrait in full military uniform.

El Ciudadno. Heudonville habla al | mentor de los Negros sobre las malas resul- | tas de su revelion. [below image] Manuel Lopez Lopez dibuo. y Gravo Mo. Full length portraits of both subjects conversing, the “mentor” looking slightly abashed.

Cristobal comandte. del Exercito recorre la Isla de | Sto. Domingo incendiando y matando a los in | felices colonos de ella [below image] Manuel Lopez Lopez dibuo. y Gravo Mo. Cristobal is shown full length with sword in one hand and lit torch in the other against a background of a burning town and its piteous inhabitants.

Fue muerta y destrozada en el campo este infeliz pr. | haver resitado a los deseos brutales de los Negros | y el nino perezio de hambre asulado buscando el pecho | yerto de su Madre [below image] Manuel Lopez Lopez dibuo. y Gravo Mexo. A horrific, wraithlike scene depicting a dismembered and decapitated woman with a dead infant at her left breast.

Laubertue. [below image] Manuel Lopez Lopez lo dibuo. y Gravo Mco. Full-length portrait of subject in military uniform against the background of a military camp.

Desalines. [below image] Manuel Lopez Lopez lo dibuo. y Gravo Mco. A brutal full-length image of Dessalines in military uniform with a sword upraised in his right hand and a decapitated woman’s head in his left, against a background of a military camp with a severed hand in the immediate background.

Cristobal | Ministro de estado de Hayti Generalisimo | de las armas de tierra y Almirante de Marina. | 1.806 [sic] [below image] Reo grao. Mo. Oval bust portrait in military uniform.

Coronacion de Juan Santiago Desalines primer | Emperador de Hayti [below image] Manuel Lopez Lopez dibuo. y Gravo Mexco. Court scene showing Dessalines in imperial garb on his throne surrounded by his court.

Desalines | Primer Emperador de Hayti en dia de Gala. [below image] Rea grao en Mo. Oval bust portrait in full military uniform.

     First Mexican edition (first edition, Paris, 1804). Mathes, La Ilustración en México colonial 9860. Medina, México 9860. Palau 363023. Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores en la Nueva España, pp. 493-496 (discussing Larrea and citing four of the plates in the present work) & pp. 496-498 (discussing López López and citing two of the plates in the present book). Sabin 21029. According to Palau, this edition is preferable to the first edition in Spanish (Madrid, 1805). See John Carter Brown Library “Exhibition of Slavery and Justice” #22 (this edition).

     Given the original French source, it goes without saying that the rebellion against French rule in Haiti is painted in the worst light with no recognition of how momentous an event it was that slaves managed successfully to throw off the yoke of French colonialism and establish a government of any type. As if the text were not graphic enough, some of the illustrations are even worse. The engravers have spared no effort of their burins to depict their subjects literally in the darkest hues, thereby reinforcing in imagery what the text relates. Although dressed in European military uniforms, the subjects are virtual caricatures of themselves, often depicted with overly large lips and noses and bulging eyes and engaging in brutal atrocities. The contrast is nowhere stronger than in the plate depicting Heudonville, who is depicted with classical European looks that contrast strongly to those of his interlocutor. The plates are unique to this edition and appear nowhere else. Emperor Maximilian owned a copy of this book.

     Dubroca, who herein castigates the English for their support of this rebellion which led to the first independent nation in Latin America, also wrote an equally disparaging life of François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture. The publisher, Juan López Cancelada (1765-1825), was a Spanish-born emigrant who became a well-known polemicist and political agitator. His publication of this text has been interpreted in some quarters as a prediction of caste warfare in Mexico itself. Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806) fought alongside Louverture for Haiti’s freedom, eventually rising to become the first emperor of the new nation. His bloodthirsty ways were recognized in his time.

     Mathes, La Ilustración en México colonial: “Among the more important students of engraving was the nephew of Gil, Manuel López López, who enjoyed a scholarship in matrix engraving from 25 September 1788 to 1797. Having inherited the tools of his uncle in 1798, he subsequently established an imprenta de estampas (illustration press) on the Calle de las Escalerillas, advertising production of engravings, etchings, and matrices. For book illustration he 1806 extraordinary portraits of Blasou, L’Ouverture, L’Auberture, Desalines, Christophe (2), and the Haitian revolt (4), in collaboration with Larrea for Vida de J.J. Dessalines, Gefe de los Negros de Santo Domingo.”


Sold. Hammer: $3,000.00; Price Realized: $3,675.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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