Mexico Landscapes and Popular Sketches

First Edition in English

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521. SARTORIUS, C[arl Christian Wilhelm] (author) & [Johann] Moritz Rugendas (artist). Mexico. Landscapes and Popular Sketches by C. Sartorius. Edited by Dr. Gaspey. With Steel Engravings by Distinguished Artists, from Original Sketches by Moritz Rugendas. London: Trübner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1859. [i-v] vi, [2], [1] 2-202 pp., leaf 2 of gathering 13, (pp. 93-94) is a cancel, 18 steel-engraved plates, including illustrated title and frontispiece (views, scenery, archaeology, urban and rural life, volcanoes) after original artwork by Rugendas. 4to (29 x 22.7 cm), original gilt decorated blue cloth (Mexican eagle on upper cover, vaquero on horseback with lasso on lower cover), gilt pictorial spine, bevelled edges, a.e.g. Binding rubbed and slightly faded, spinal extremities and corners frayed and worn (chipped at top). Front hinge strengthened, some signatures slightly shaken, text and plates with occasional light uniform browning and mild foxing (plates generally fine and clean), original tissue guards present. Contemporary bookseller’s label on front pastedown (“New English Library. R. Watkins No. 10 Admiralty Plain, St. Petersburg”); original binder’s ticket on lower pastedown (“Bound Westley’s & Co. London”). Uncommon and very difficult to find in original binding, complete, and acceptable condition.

Plate List

Overall sheet size of plates: 21 x 27.8 cm. Dimensions provided are border to border and do not include captions beneath borders. Engravers attributed on image include G.M. Kurz, J. Poppel, and W. Lang; several attribute publishing to G.G. Lange. Most captions are in English, Spanish, and German. Plate explanations in preceding entry.

[Pictorial title] Mexico and the Mexicans. London Trúbner & Co. 60 Paternoster Row. 1859. Image size: 19.6 x 13 cm.

[Frontispiece] The Mirador Looking towards the Gulf.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.6 cm.

The Port of Veracruz with the Castle of S. Juan de Ulua.... Border to border: 12.3 x 19.2 cm.

View of the Coast on the Road from Veracruz to Ialapa.... Border to border: 12.5 x 19.5 cm.

Vegetation of the Westcoast, Palmwood & Volcano of Colima.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.2 cm.

The Country of the Sabanas on the Eastern Coast.... Border to border: 12.3 x 19.3 cm.

The Region of Oaks between Ialapa and Quautepec Looking towards the Volcano of Orizava.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.4 cm.

Region of the Pines.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.7 cm.

Plateau of Puebla.... Border to border: 12.7 x 19.9 cm.

Volcan Jorullo. Border to border: 12 x 19.5 cm.

The Volcano of Colima.... Border to border: 12.3 x 19.5 cm.

Barranca (Ravine) of Santa Maria with the Heights of Mirador and the Volcano of Orizava.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.3 cm.

Citizens and Market-Folks.... Border to border: 13.4 x 19.5 cm.

Indians of the Tierra Templada.... Border to border: 13.2 x 19.5 cm.

Dancing Mongrels.... Border to border: 13 x 19 cm.

The Alameda, Public Walk.... Border to border: 12.7 x 20 cm.

Soldiers and Proletarians.... Border to border: 13.7 x 19.8 cm.

The Bull Hunting....Border to border: 12.6 x 19.5 cm.

     First edition in English (originally issued in nine parts), first edition, Darmstadt, 1855. Palau 302686. Sabin 77121. For more on Sartorius and this work, see preceding entry. Editor-translator Thomas W. Gaspey (d. 1871) wrote works on the Rhine, Heidelberg, and linguistics (DNB). All editions contain chapters at the end relating to ranching, vaqueros, horses, and such. Rugendas’ images of these subjects are classics of the genre.

     Artist Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858) is an outstanding  example of one of Humboldt’s protégés who was ignited by the vision of the towering polymath. Humboldt helped establish the role model of the intellectual as nomadic traveller. The young Rugendas, representing nine generations of artists in his Bavarian family, was predisposed by education, ability, experience, and Weltanschauung to embrace Humboldt’s challenge. Rugendas went to America to explore, discover, analyze, and document, with both large and small lenses. Rugendas’ style of art reflects Humboldt’s vision which presents the large strokes of the subject while capturing the minute details, down to the smallest botanical feature. Rugendas’ images meld artistic beauty and scientific truth. That quality is particularly apparent in the present work in his images of the various types of geographic and geographical landscapes in Mexico, such as The Country of the Sabanas on the Eastern Coast, The Region of Oaks, Region of the Pines, Plateau of Puebla, Vegetation of the Westcoast, Barranca (Ravine) of Santa Maria, et al. Rugendas is also celebrated for his attention to human geography, costumbrismo, and his remarkable ability to evoke the atmosphere of the places he painted. As noted by Ronald Rees, “Landscape paintings, if cautiously interpreted, are an invaluable source for the historical geographer, and one that ought to be tapped more consistently” (Geography and Landscape Painting: An Introduction to a Neglected Field” in Scottish Geographical Magazine, Vol. 89, No. 3, December, 1973, p. 149).
     The Athenaeum, Issues 1601-1626 (November 27, 1858, p. 696) printed this extract from a letter of Capt. Mayne Reid to the publisher of the present English edition:

You have asked for my opinion of Sartorius’s book on Mexico. With pleasure I comply with your request, since I have derived great pleasure from the perusal of the book. I hesitate not to affirm that it is the most original work written about New Spain since the Essai Politique of Baron Humboldt; and as it treats about matters which the greatest of travellers has scarce touched upon, it may stand side by side with the Political Essay in originality of character and observation. It is certainly the only book upon Mexico (known to me) at all worthy of such companionship. Of course the character of these two books is widely different; and Humboldt’s work may be regarded as the massive frame which the late observer has filled with a flowery picture of details. After having read some scores of books upon Mexico and its people alike flippant, vapid, and gossippy, it is refreshing to peruse a work of such original and varied observation.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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