The Height of Mexican Portraiture in Lithographs

Includes Leaders of Texas & Reference to the first attempt to Colonize Texas

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510. RIVERA CAMBAS, Manuel. Los Gobernantes de México. Galería de biografías y retratos de los Vireyes, Emperadores, Presidentes y otros gobernantes que ha tenido México, desde Don Hernando Cortes hasta el C. Benito Juarez. Escrita por Manuel Rivera. Autor de la “Historia de Jalapa y las Revoluciones del Estado de Veracruz,” Ingenerio de minas, y miembro de las Sociedades de Geografía y Estadistica y de Historia Natural. Mexico: Imp. de J.M. Aguilar Ortiz, 1a. de Santo Domingo núm. 5, [1872]-1873. Vol. I: [2], [1-3] 4-624 pp., 74 lithograph plates; Vol. II: [2], [1-7] 8-686 pp., 85 lithograph plates, including frontispiece (total 159 lithograph portraits of rulers of New Spain and Mexico, many with facsimile signatures, some with coats of arms, most signed in print by L. Garcés from the shop of Viuda de Murguía e Hijos). 2 vols., small folio (30.4 x 20 cm), contemporary maroon roan over red and black marbled boards, spines with raised bands and gilt-lettering and ruling, edges sprinkled. Joints and hinges cracked, starting, or strengthened, corners bumped, mild shelf wear to binding; Vol. II frontispiece lightly waterstained at bottom, pp. 481/2 torn with loss of a few letters, pp. 497-501 lacking upper gutter corners, a few leaves with marginal tears; otherwise text fine other than mild staining to blank margins of a few signatures and plates at end of second volume, plates generally fine to very fine. Overall, a fine copy of a rare book seldom found complete. The work issued in parts, and the number of plates varies (the Bancroft copy, for instance, has 159 plates, like the present copy). Palau calls for 162 plates. We have handled the set twice: one set had 161 plates, and the other had 153 plates.

     First edition. Mathes, Mexico on Stone, p. 38: “The publication of Manuel Rivera Cambas’ Los gobernantes de México...containing magnificently produced lithographs depicting each of the viceroys and presidents and their signatures by L. Garcés from the shop of Viuda de Murguía e Hijos...demonstrated the attainment of perfection in portraiture on stone”; illustrated (p. 27). Palau 270220. Sabin 71625 (no plate count provided). Tyler, Texas Lithographs of the Nineteenth Century (citing portraits of Lorenzo de Zavala and Mañuel de Mier y Terán). Other portraits of Texas interest include Santa-Anna, Melchoir Múzquiz, José María Tornel, Miguel Ramos Arizpe, and Juan N. Almonte. Little is known about artist L. Garcés.

     The text is a straight-forward authoritative history of each administration done in chronological order from Hernán Cortés to the second administration of Benito Juárez. If a person served in office more than once, each administration is assigned its own chapter, including the seven times Santa-Anna held the office. Only a few women are shown, such as Empress Carlotta. During the reign of Viceroy Calleja del Rey, the troubles in Texas and with the United States began with several U.S. feints along the Louisiana border and several filibusters who invaded Texas. The empresario Richard Raynal Keene also maneuvered to introduce foreign colonists and secure for himself vast tracts of land (discussed in present work in Vol. I, pp. 590-592). Streeter in his discussion on rare Mexican imprints on Texas remarks: “The first publication of a plan for the colonization of Texas. This is the Memoria of Richard Raynal Keene to Ferdinand VII of Spain, dated Madrid, January 1, 1815 [Nos. 1056, 1056A], asking for a grant to colonize Texas along the lines of the grant of Louis XIV to Crozat in 1712. It was a grandiose scheme, but nothing came of it.” The author laments that despite generous provisions for Mexicans to move to Texas in the end, “¡Despues de tales emplejos todavía fué colonizada Tejas con emigrantes de los Estados-Unidos!” (p. 592). These nascent disasters are given their due treatment in the subsequent discussions of Bustamante’s and Santa-Anna’s various terms in office.

     As important as the text may be, it is surpassed by the lithographs, which are of superb quality and represent the height of Mexican portraiture of the time. Faced with the daunting prospect of producing over 150 different images, artist Garcés used a variety of poses to animate his subjects. Several of them are stark profile views, almost silhouette-like in their approach. Others are three-quarter treatments that give more life and interest to the subjects. Finally, some are quite dramatic, such as a dashing portrait of Santa-Anna, who seems to be pointing the way forward. No portrait, however, is given more reverence than Hidalgo’s, which is the Vol. II frontispiece. He is shown nearly full length, dressed in formal attire, papers and books on the desk behind him, all presided over by an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe hanging on the wall behind him. The image is derived from one in the Palacio Nacional.

     Rivera Cambas (1840-1917) was an engineer by training but wrote several important historical works, including a history of Jalapa.


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

Auction 23 Abstracts

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