“The Great Classic of Types and Customs of Mexico” (Mathes)

“La obra más interesante publicada por Murguía y hoy más rara” (Toussaint)

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448. [MEXICAN LITHOGRAPHY]. [IRIARTE, Hesiquio (artist & lithographer), Andrés Campillo (artist), & Manuel Murguía (printer, publisher & lithographer)]. Los Mexicanos pintados por si mismos. Tipos y costumbres nacionales, por varios autores. Mexico: Imprenta de M. Murguía y Comp., Portal del Águila de Oro, 1854-[1855]. [2], [1] 2-290 [2, verso blank] pp. (56 incorrectly numbered 93), 35 lithograph plates: tinted lithograph half title + 34 uncolored lithograph plates (Mexican types, each with its own title; see plate list below), lithographed by Andrés Campillo and Hesiquio Iriarte after their own art work, ornamental chapter heads, historiated wood-engraved initials. 4to (25.8 x 18 cm), contemporary quarter red sheep over brown and gold mottled boards, spine gilt lettered and decorated, raised bands. Binding worn and chipped at head of spine, edge wear, corners bumped, upper hinge broken, lower hinge starting, title page browned, text with light scattered foxing and browning, plates generally very fine, overall a good copy. Some copies, such as the University of Toronto copy, lack the pictorial half title, the first four plates, and the last plate. In our copy all 36 plates are present; half title and six plates are trimmed, two with loss of the headline “Los Mexicanos.”

Plate List

Each plate measures approximately 25 x 17 cm. Imprint information appears left and right of the titles. Most plates with headline at top: “Los Mexicanos.”

[1] Pictorial tinted title: Los Mexicanos pintados por si mismos. Por varios autores. Imprint: Propriedad del Editor. Edicion de M. Murguia. Lit. Portal del Aguila de Oro. Mexicans mingle beneath a large drape being attached to two palm trees by a man on a ladder.

[2] El Aguador. Imprint: Lito de Murguia y Ca | Dibujado por H. Iriarte. Standing next to a large well, a male water carrier wearing flared Mexican trousers with buttons along the outside seams has large containers strapped over his shoulders.

[3] La Chiera. Imprint: H. Iriarte, litog. | Lito de Murguia y Ca. A female prettily decked out in china poblana and shawl offers a bowl of agua de chia, a popular Mexican beverage typically made of chia seeds and orange blossom water or other fruit juices. The background is an arbor with containers strung from leafy branches

[4] El Pulquero. Imprint: H. Iriarte, lito. | Lito de Murguia y Ca. A blasé male in long apron and fabric head wrap holds in one hand a mug or dipper and in the other a large glass of liquor made from the sap of the agave plant. Beside and behind him are barrels labeled “San Lunes” etc. In the background are paintings of manly scenes, such as a bull-fight.

[5] El Barbero. Imprint: H. Iriarte, lito. | Lito. de Murguia y Ca. The barber is dressed in a suit and vest, sports a top hat, and carries a shaving bowl, folded towel, and leather case. The background includes a fancy mirror, chair, and a guitar hanging on the wall.

[6] El Cochero. Imprint: H. Iriarte, lito. | Lito. de Murguia y Ca. A hefty coachman in loose trousers, rope belt, white shirt, short jacket, and tall, floppy boots holds a small sombrero in one hand and his coach whip in the other. In the foreground is a huge wooden wheel and in the background a coach.

[7] El Cómico de la Legua. Imprint: H. Iriarte, lito. | Lito. de Murguia y Ca. A young man wearing slippers reads a script by the light of a candle in a bottle, while slouching in one chair and resting one leg on the other. The cluttered room has costumes and props spread around.

[8] La Costurera. Imprint: Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. | H. Iriarte lito. A seated intent seamstress in long, demure plaid dress and dark apron daintily holds needle and thread in one hand and light-colored cloth in the other. On a table at right is sewing paraphernalia and in the background is a lamp.

[9] El Cajero. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. The cashier in this case is a well-dressed man in short coat, embroidered vest, striped pants, good leather shoes, hat, and enormous bow tie; under his arm is a bag (for cash?). In the back are foodstuffs, such as fish, cheese, wine bottles, etc.

[10] El Evangelista. Imprint: H. Iriarte lito. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. The scribe or letter writer wears glasses and sits at a writing table with pen in hand writing on a piece of paper, with inkwell nearby. A sign on the desk reads “Escribiente No. 12.”

[11] El Sereno. Imprint: H. Iriarte lito. | Lit. de M. Murguia y Ca. Night guard in dark clothing, long coat, loose trousers, medium-brimmed hat, sword in belt, lantern in one hand and night stick in the other. With him is his trusty dog.

[12] El Alacenero. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujo. | Lito de M. Murguia y Ca. A vendor stands behind a wooden cabinet on which are a showcase, books, binoculars, and merchandise, with more goods strung on the wall.

[13] La China. Imprint: H. Iriarte lito. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. Classic china poblana imagery: an attractive lady with smoking cigarillo in hand is dressed in an elaborate costume with full floral skirt, crépe de chine blouse, striped sash and shawl, and beaded jewelry. The setting appears to be a kitchen with utensils on the wall and two chickens at her tiny feet.

[14] La Recamarera. Imprint: H. Iriarte lito. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A young, pretty housemaid with her long hair braided wears peasant attire and a long apron; she lifts a chair while holding a feather duster under her arm.

[15] El Músico de Cuerda. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A smiling lute player sits in his chair with leg crossed, hat on floor at left (for offerings), and wine bottle and plate of food on right.

[16] El Poetastro. Imprint: H. Iriarte lito. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A most unflattering depiction (and text description) of a bad poet, nicely dressed, leaning over a desk with pen in hand, head resting on his other hand, staring upward blankly, with a row of “novelas” on the bookshelves behind.

[17] El Vendutero. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. The auctioneer stands at attention with gavel in one hand and watch with chain in the other. A gun, stuffed bird, painting, and other goods are in the background.

[18] La Coqueta. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A well-endowed wasp-waisted coquette in swanky gown with plunging bodice uses two mirrors to inspect her appearance as a miniature dog prances in the background.

[19] El Abogado. Imprint: [at right] Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. Handsomely dressed young attorney sits at a desk reading a book he holds in his hand; backdrop of fancy well-filled wooden bookcase.

[20] El Arriero. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A transporter of goods who uses pack animals is shown with rope coiled on a large hook. His garb includes a protective vest with straps and chaps. On the ground is a small embossed leather bag, and in the distance are pack animals and other men cooking over an open fire.

[21] El Jugador de Ajedrez. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A chess player in top hat, fancy suit, and umbrella at his side sits at a round table on which is a chess set, newspaper, and drink. Fingering his moustache and deep in contemplation, he holds a chess piece in the air. In the background others mill about columns.

[22] El Cajista. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A dandy print compositor in top hat, vest, cuffed shirt, make-shift apron, neck scarf, striped trousers with built-in gaiters arranges type in a composing stick with a cigarette in his mouth. He stands before a large cabinet of type and in the background are two other men in the shop are working with paper, and visible are signs on the wall, including one for this publication.

[23] La Estanquillera. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A beautiful young woman “dressed like a princess” shown as the vendor of monopolist tobacco products, and the text declares that no woman is more sociable (apparently to attract customers).

[24] El Escribiente. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A well-dressed man wearing glasses and a long coat and top hat carries a walking stick and holds a thick manuscript in hand which he reads while walking. Behind him are a book case and a table with manuscripts and writing implements.

[25] El Ranchero. Imprint: H. Iriarte dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. Excellent depiction of dress of the Mexican ranchero, wide-brimmed hat, serape over one shoulder, lariat in hand, calzoneras, boots & spurs, white camisa, string tie, and tooled leather chest protector with epaulets and long sleeves. In the background are a lady equestrian and a well-equipped white horse tied to a tree.

[26] El Maestro de Escuela. Imprint: [at right] Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A crabby old schoolmaster sits at his desk displaying a wooden paddle which he has just applied, or intends to apply, to an agitated little scholar holding his head. The little fellow has holes in his shoes and a knee patch on his trousers.

[27] La Casera. Imprint: [at right] Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A crone stands in a room holding a ring of keys and a long list. The text notes that Eve, the first housekeeper, and Adam, were happy, because they did not live in a house and thus had no need for someone like La Casera.

[28] El Criado. Imprint: Andres Campillo dibujó | Lito. de Murguia y Ca. A young servant lad against an urban street scene carries goods in a basket, a bottle, and a vented container with handle and stacks of small interlocking pans.

[29] El Mercero. Imprint: A. Campillo dibujó | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A street vendor in the market wearing hat, plaid trousers, and short coat carries a basket of beads, scissors, and related trinkets, and in the other hand displays types of ribbons and decorative trims.

[30] El Partera. Imprint: A. Campillo dibujó | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. In a candlelit room a midwife in peasant dress sits cross-legged on the floor while attending a newborn infant; around the pair are strewn birthing chair, wash basin, cloths, scissors, and bottles of substances. On a table in the back ground the picture of an archangel is upside down.

[31] El Ministro. Imprint: Andres Campillo dibujó | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A finely dressed government minister stands before a door with sign “Ministerio de....” His hand is in his coat, and he carries a cane and leather portfolio.

[32] El Cargador. Imprint: [at right] Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A young man plods along a street with a staggering array of items he carries on a chair suspended from his back with leather strap attached to his forehead and other items in hand. His burden includes a live bird in a cage, plant in flower pot, broom, feather duster, umbrella, boots, sword, pot, etc.

[33] El Tocinero. Imprint: [at right] Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. A barefoot young man in rolled-up short trousers and apron walks down a cobble-stone street carrying on his head a pan with a cone of lard. The text indicates he is a butcher of pigs and that lard is the soul of the Mexican kitchen.

[34] El Ministro Ejecutor. Imprint: [at right] Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. The occupation of this person is to evict people. Outfitted in coat, plaid trousers, and top hat, the fellow is unlocking a door with one hand, turning a latch with the other, and in his coat pocket are several folded and rolled documents.

[35] El Panadero. Imprint: A. Campillo dibujó. | Lito. de M. Murguia y Ca. With arms crossed, the bread man wearing long white shirt, loose-fitting light-weight trousers, and a bandana gazes out confidently. One shoe is off and his large bread basket hat is empty of bread and leaning on a table which holds an empty scale. Day is done.

     First edition. Published in parts 1854-1855. Sometimes the work is described as having 33 plates; the two “extra” plates here are the pictorial title and an extra plate (“El Panadero”) at end, which is not accompanied by text, as usual. Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 28: “The year 1854 marked the revival of major lithographic albums with Murguía’s printing of the great classic of types and customs, Los Mexicanos pintados por sí mismos. Tipos y costumbres nacionales, por varios autores, with lithographs by Campillo and Iriarte... Los Mexicanos pintados por sí mismos continued to appear in fascicles in 1855”; 57 (citing the book in his bibliography); 64 (Iriarte and Murguía). Museo Nacional de Arte, Nación de Imágenes: La Litografía Mexicana del siglo XIX, p. 339: “Obra clásica de tipos y costumbres.” Palau 167479 (calling for 33 plates and identifying authors as Juan de Dios Arias, Hilarión Frías y Soto, Ignacio Ramírez, Pantaleón Tovar, J.M. Rivera, and Niceto de Zamacois): “Edición rara.” Sabin 48577 (calling for 35 plates). Toussaint, La Litografía en México, p. xix: “La obra más interesante publicada por Murguía y hoy más rara...imitando una obra semejante, editada en 1851 en España, por Gaspar y Roig, se ofrece una serie de tipos populares, litografidos por Iriarte y Campillo, cada uno con su texto explicativo. La obra es hoy de mayor interés, tanto para el bibliófilo como para el historiador.” Not in Abbey (Travel in Aquatint and Lithography), Colas, Hiler (Bibliography of Costume), or Lipperheide.

      This work was immediately inspired by Los Españoles pintados por sí mismos (Madrid, 1843-1844) which was itself based upon the French plate book Les Français peints par eux-mêmes (Paris, 1844). In the Mexican publication, however, certain departures have taken place, such as providing context by including backgrounds and figures other than the main one, and showing background perspective, some of it elongated or otherwise distorted. The Mexican authors did not imitate exactly the Spanish prototypes. There are quite a few types portrayed in the Mexican collection which are not suggested by the Spanish types but are peculiar to Mexico, such as El Cajero, El Cajista, La Casera, El Cómico de la Legua, La Coqueta, La Costarera, El Criado, La Partera, El Poetastro, and others. In the present work, depictions of priests or military men are not included.

     For more on the evolution of this work, see María Esther Pérez Salas C., Costumbrismo y litografía en Mexico: un nuevo modo de ver (Mexico: UNAM, 2005) and her article, “Genealogía de ‘Los Mexicanos pintados por si mismos’“ in Historia Mexicana, Vol. 48, No. 2, October-December, 1998, pp. 167-207 (quoting abstract):

This article deals with the external process that decisively influenced the publishing of Los Mexicanos pintados por si mismos, represented by the European romantic movement. It analyzes particularly the development of the literary style of costumbrismo in its more romantic vein, which generated a series of illustrated works whose central theme were popular groups, and which influenced Mexican literary and graphic production during the first half of the nineteenth century. The article also notes that the model imposed by England, France, and Spain, where image and text became an indissoluble binomial in the treatment of popular groups, was applied in our country with certain changes, which gave the 1854 Mexican edition a specificity that distinguishes it from its previous homologues.

     The renderings of the figures are highly detailed and expertly done, with numerous details suggesting the subject’s psychological attitudes, as well, some of which is supported by the text. The night watchman (El Sereno) is, for example, shown as a dignified, serious figure neatly dressed with the tools of his trade (lantern, staff, sword, and whistle), a depiction warmly supported by the text, which declares that although there are now many sources of light, men basically love darkness because their deeds are evil and that the night watchman is one of the more noble professions in society. There is even a dialogue between a guard and a robbed woman. The chess player (El Jugador de Ajedrez) is, however, a slightly shadier character shown sitting alone at a table, stroking his mustache, and contemplating his next move. He is dressed to the nines, umbrella at his side, and high hat on his head. To the contrary, however, cigar butts litter the floor. The text of this chapter, which is mostly poetry, is somewhat amusing in making fun of his obsession.

     One of the more interesting images in the book is that of the compositor (El Cajista) shown plying his trade. Dressed almost formally in a white shirt, tie, and top hat, he is shown staring into the distance, composing stick in hand, as he stands in front of his type cases, the manuscript propped up before him. Although the accompanying text is generally quite positive about this profession that traces its roots to Gutenberg and with which the authors would have been quite sympathetic, they nevertheless throw in this caveat: “Veámosla, y pidámosle á Dios nos libre de un mal Cajista; calumnia viviente, difamador de carne y hueso.” The sentiment is complete with an example of printing with a bad typo in it. Another image of special note is the midwife (La Partera) with a beatific face, who is shown with a newborn in her lap while she carefully and tenderly ties the umbilical cord, birthing chair in the background. The view is a superb example of medical practice in mid-nineteenth century Mexico.

     The lithographs were done by Hesiquio Iriarte (ca. 1820-1897), arguably, the finest lithographer in nineteenth-century Mexico. His earliest major production was that of the numerous plates in the extraordinary four-volume El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1842) and lithographs in El Gallo Pitagórico (Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1845). He also produced excellent plates for Apuntes históricos de la heroica ciudad de Vera-Cruz (Mexico: Ignacio Cumplido, 1850), Los Conventos suprimidos de México (México: J.M. Aguilar y Compañía, 1861), and De Miramar a México (Orizaba: J. Bernardo Aburto, 1864) with an outstanding portrait of Maximilian. Spanning a half-century, the role of Iriarte in Mexican lithography cannot be overstated.

     In 1847 Iriarte joined Manuel Murguía’s newly established typography and lithography shop at Portal del Águila de Oro (Mathes, Mexico on Stone, p. 24; Dicc. Porrúa). The long-lived Murguía firm created some marvelous lithographic books, such as the present example. The Murguía firm was also a prolific publisher of sheet music, some of which featured illustrations of different types of dance. Little is known of artist Andrés Campillo, although a recent thesis notes that he and his brother Julián were from Italy (see Lucila Arellano Vázquez, “Análisis de los portados impresas en México de hasta 1820 hasta 1845: Un visión del sector editorial a través de los libros y sus portados,” University of Barcelona, 2005). Authorship of the articles accompanying each lithograph is clearly revealed in only two cases: Fevi Iris, Juan de Dios Arrias, and in some instances by sigla or initials (A., E., R., etc.).

     This rare book is much more than a mere picture book. William H. Beezley, Mexican National Identity: Memory, Innuendo, and Popular Culture (University of Arizona Press, 2008), p. 149: “Unlike foreigners, such as Claudio Linati [see herein] who portrayed Mexicans, especially the indigenous, as exotic beings, these illustrators and writers showed their fellow men and women as familiar, if little known, members of their national community. This liberalism that recognized the diversity of ethnic, social, and economic groups created a frame in which popular nationalism emerged.”


Sold. Hammer: $4,000.00; Price Realized: $4,900.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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