The First Lithograph Plate Book on Mexico

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216. LINATI, C[laudio]. Costumes civils, militaires et réligieux du Mexique. Dessinés d’après nature par C. Linati. Imprimés à la Lithographie Royale de Jobard Bruxelles. Publiés par Ch Sattanino. Brussels: Jobard & Sattanino, [1828]. [48] pp., 50 lithograph plates, 2 of which are uncolored (title and portrait of Montezuma) + 48 with original full hand coloring, all plates except title are signed on stone by Linati, each plate accompanied by letterpress text leaf of explanation. 4to (27.5 x 22 cm), contemporary three-quarter red sheep over marbled boards, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, marbled endpapers. Binding very worn and corners heavily bumped. Text with extremely light uniform browning and occasional mild foxing, a few leaves with very slight water staining at blank lower margins, one leaf of text and one plate missing sections from blank margins at bottom (without touching image or text). Overall a very good, complete copy, the plates fine and bright. This rare book is seldom found complete and in collector’s condition.

     First edition of the first lithograph plate book on Mexico. Colas 1872. Hiler, Bibliography of Costume, p. 545. Lipperheide 1622. Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 8-14: “Immediately became the basis for many other illustrations of Mexico, as well as the principal source for information on the region since Humboldt.” Museo Nacional de Arte, Nación de imágenes: La Litografía mexicana del Siglo XIX, pp. 56-69, 163-170, 340-341. Palau 138502. Racinet, Le Costume Historique, p. 164. Reese & Miles, The Illustrating Traveler: Adventure and Illustration in North America and the Caribbean 1760-1895: “Linati’s book followed the popular pattern of European costume books which exhibited national characteristics and typical trades, displaying different Mexican types from Apaches to soldiers. He was at pains to show occupations which would seem exotic to his European audience, including an image of an Indian extracting sap from a Maguey plant to prepare the fermented drink, pulque.” Sabin 41144. Toussaint, La Litografía en México, pp. xii-xiv: “De este primer monumento de nuestra litografía existe un ejemplar incompleto en la Biblioteca del Museo y otro en la Nacional.” For more on Linati, see Dicc. Porrúa, Ron Tyler’s article in Handbook of Texas Online (Linati, Claudio), and José N. Iturriaga de la Fuente, Claudio Linati: acuarelas y litografías (Mexico City: Inversora Bursátil, S.A. de C.V., 1993). Linati’s publisher, A.-M. Jobard, is listed in Bénézit.

     Italian artist Linati (1757-1837), son of a count, was born in Carbonara de Parma, and his full name was Marcos Claudio Marcelo Antonio Pompeyo Blas Juan Linati de Prevost. He studied at the Society of Engravers of Parma, followed by a year in Paris in the studio of influential Neoclassical artist Jacques Louis David, an active supporter of the French Revolution. Subsequently Linati served in the Napoleonic army, was taken prisoner, and released in 1814, after which he married and spent a few years in Spain. Family life did not suit him, and he returned to Parma where he abandoned his traditional political philosophy and embraced liberalism. Captured in a revolt in 1821, he was arrested but escaped. In 1824 was sentenced, in absentia, to ten years in prison and loss of all property, and subsequently to death. He fled to Brussels, where he met the Mexican charge d’affaires, Manuel Eduardo Gorostiza, who helped him emigrate to Mexico in 1825 with the plan of opening a lithography academy in Mexico. He certainly initiated a revolution, but it was a revolution in the graphic arts in Mexico, rather than political. He set up the first lithographic shop in Mexico, taught the art to others, and printed the weekly periodical, El Iris (February to August, 1826). One of the lithographs in El Iris entitled “Tyranny” was the first political cartoon published in Mexico.

     Upon his return to Brussels early in 1828, Linati distilled his original watercolors made from life during his sojourn in Mexico into this superb collection of richly colored lithograph images of Mexicans and their activities. He ingeniously and gracefully combined high artistic values, expert lithographic technique, precise details of costume and material culture, and a deep sensitivity to the humanity of his subjects. Linati always placed the human figure in the foreground. Backgrounds of architecture, landscape, and even battles are deftly muted by line and color, yet they are nonetheless decipherable. This quality was an advantage of the new medium of lithography over wood or copper. Linati’s beautiful images justifiably captured the imagination of everyone who saw them, becoming the basis of decades of artistic borrowing and adaptation. Linati’s work also inspired others to create such albums in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

     These outstanding lithographs are an important source on Mexican life and manners during the first decades of the nineteenth century. By illustrating persons from all regions of Mexico, Linati created a graphic registry of the population diversity of Mexico. Accompanying leaves with descriptive text for each image add to the value and usefulness of the work. Vividly illustrated are indigenous peoples from every part of rural Mexico, sophisticated urban dwellers, men of the cloth, soldiers, Mexican heroes of Independence, trades-people from all walks of life, and Mexican games and pasttimes. Included is a magnificent illustration of a bold Apache chief with numerous colorful tattoos on his chest and arms, armed with decorated shield and lance, galloping on horseback, with legend below: Cacique Apache des bords du Rio Colorado dans le Californie. Of Texas interest is the handsome full-length portrait of Vicente Filisola, commander of the Eastern Provincias Internas and Santa Anna’s second in command on the Texas campaign, who received a large empresario grant in Texas (Handbook of Texas Online: Filisola, Vicente). Collectors of textiles, costume and uniforms, saddles, guns and weapons, and other material culture of Mexico and the borderlands will find these images valuable for research,

     “The most popular of the [illustrated] albums [of Latin America] were those containing landscape views and costumbritas scenes, and it was in those areas that the ‘confrontación de miradas’ between European and Latin American artists can best be examined.... Linati’s own Costumes civils, militaires et réligieux du Mexique is one of the most interesting and liveliest of the more specialized albums. In spite of its title, it is considerably more than a book of picturesque costumes of trade, professions, and regions (though it contains these, too), for it includes historical figures, each carefully commented on and chosen out of a clear commitment to Mexican ideals of independence and reform. The first plate depicts Montezuma, and Hidalgo, Morelos, and Fray Gregorio are all included” (Dawn Ades, Guy Brett, Stanton Loomis Catlin & Rosemary O’Neill, Art in Latin America: The Modern Era, 1820-1980, Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 73-74). These same authors point out that Linati’s portrait of Hidalgo is among the few contemporary images of him and conjecture that it was probably done after a portrait of Hidalgo made by an Indian from life. They contrast its celebratory quality to other portraits of Hidalgo that were done later (pp. 22-24).

     An aside: A lesser known and extraordinarily rare lithograph by Linati is the map of Texas he made for Fiorenzo Galli in 1826, the only known copy of which is held by the University of Texas at Austin (Martin & Martin 28; Streeter 713).


Sold. Hammer: $5,000.00; Price Realized: $6,125.00.

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