A Vivid Account of Mexico with Handsome Engravings by Rugendas

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520. SARTORIUS, C[arl Christian Wilhelm] (author) & [Johann] Moritz Rugendas (artist). Mexiko. Landschaftsbilder und Skizzen aus dem Volksleben von C. Sartorius. Mit Stahlstichen vorzüglicher Meister Moritz Rugendas. Darmstadt: Verlag von Gustav Georg Lange; Paris: In Commission bei G. Scriba jeune, Rue Montmorency 6 [colophon: Buchdruckerei: Chr. Friedr. Will in Darmstadt], [ca. 1855]. [i-v] vi-viii, [1] 2-364, [2] pp. (text printed within ornamental border), 18 steel-engraved plates (including pictorial title and frontispiece) depicting views, scenery, archaeology, volcanoes, urban and rural life, etc., after original art work by Rugendas. 8vo (23.5 x 15.8 cm), recased in early twentieth-century full black morocco, boards rolled and decorated in gilt, spine with raised bands and gilt lettering and decoration, inner gilt dentelles, a.e.g., German floral endpapers (wallpaper?). Front joint weak at top, slightly cocked, text block and plates trimmed when rebound (a few plates with slight loss of caption), text and plates with some light browning and minor water staining along lower edges (not affecting engraved images). 1936 ink gift inscription in German on front flyleaf and a few notes. Overall very good.

Plate List

Overall sheet size of all: 14.5 x 23 cm. Dimensions provided are border to border and do not include captions beneath borders. Engravers attributed on images are G.M. Kurz, J. Poppel, and W. Lang, and several attribute publishing to G.G. Lange. Most captions are in English, Spanish, and German.

[Pictorial title] Mexico und Die Mexicaner. London Lange & Koehler Darmstadt New-York Gustavus George Lange Lange & Kronfeld. Composite view with various elements symbolizing Mexico, within ornate border illustrating plants, animals, and people, surrounding a spacious, rolling landscape including architecture and a volcano. 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. Port scene with ships.

View of the Coast on the Road from Veracruz to Ialapa.... Border to border: 12.5 x 19.5 cm. Galloping vaquero herds cattle over a stream. Andrew Sluyter reproduces this plate in his article “The Ecological Origins and Consequences of Cattle Ranching in Sixteenth-Century New Spain” in Geographical Review, Vol. 86, No. 2, April, 1996, p. 169: “An engraving of a sketch by Johann Moritz Rugendas illustrates an eighteenth-century roundup in a wetland near the port of Veracruz”; and remarks in the text: “Sartorius, a nineteenth-century German inhabitant of the piedmont, observed the ecological flux between the dry savanna of the piedmont and the wet savanna of the coastal plain. His provocative description of local transhumance evokes a sense of how Villalobos, three hundred years earlier, had adapted Andalusian herding practices to the ecology of coastal Veracruz” (pp. 168-169).

The Volcano of Colima.... Border to border: 12.3 x 19.5 cm. Human figures, some riding horses, dwarfed by majestic mountains and the smoking volcano.

The Country of the Sabanas on the Eastern Coast.... Border to border: 12.3 x 19.3 cm. Riders in grasslands with receding landscape to mountains.

The Region of Oaks between Ialapa and Quautepec Looking towards the Volcano of Orizava.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.4 cm. Riders in foreground, snow-covered volcano in background.

Region of the Pines.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.7 cm. Rider on a trail bordered by towering pines in a mountain landscape with sunrise or sunset at right.

Plateau of Puebla.... Border to border: 12.7 x 19.9 cm.
Pack train riding toward snow-covered mountains, set in a landscape with cactus and yucca.

Volcan Jorullo. Border to border: 12 x 19.5 cm. The cinder cone volcano in Michoacán is in the distance, and the foreground presents a pastoral scene with pigs, boys loaded down with stalks of bananas, rider leading a horse to water, etc.

Vegetation of the Westcoast, Palmwood & Volcano of Colima.... Border to border: 12.4 x 19.2 cm. Riders in a tropical landscape in the mountain range in Colima and Jalisco, with the Colima volcano in the background.

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: 12.5 x 19.5 cm. Typical bustling market scene in Mexico with details on ranchero costume and rebozo.

Indians of the Tierra Templada.... Border to border: 12.6 x 19.5 cm. Native Americans in a small thatched hut in which turkeys and pigs roam and dogs loiter. People in various dress and a rider are nearby. The backdrop to the forest scene consists of a volcano and mountains.

Dancing Mongrels.... Border to border: 12.6 x 19 cm. Spirited scene filled with mestizo dancers in a moonlit landscape with carriages and architecture in the background. Costume superbly delineated.

The Alameda, Public Walk.... Border to border: 12.6 x 19.7 cm. At a great landmark in Mexico City, the artist presents a wonderful mélange of costumes and types, including upper class, clergy, military, ranchero, los pobres, etc.

Soldiers and Proletarians.... Border to border: 12.9 x 20 cm. Another animated scene of Mexican types and dress, prominently featuring three rancheros in full charro dress and one equestrian.

The Bull Hunting.... Border to border: 12.6 x 19.5 cm. In a vast plain, a vaquero near a small copse has roped a bull, and in the distance another rider waving a lasso races forward. Rugendas was a master of the vaquero and gaucho in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, and this plate is iconic.

     First edition, issue with both Darmstadt and Paris on printed title, and dedication on cancels. The present copy is apparently from the parts issue, which began publication in 1855. Our title does not have the ornamental border found on the printed title of the 1859 book, nor the additional wording on title (“original-aufnahmen von”). The present printed title is undated and attributes publication to Gustave George Langé in Darmstadt and G. Scriba jeune in Paris. The Langé international steel-engraving establishment had offices in Darmstadt, Paris, London, and New York. The Paris branch was manned by S.F. Ricoul and G. Scriba jeune. Palau 302683 (suggests date of 1859). Sabin 77120 (suggests date of 1859). These appear to be the original plates, some of which have Lange’s imprint still on them, which was removed, for example, in the Swedish edition. Also, in the Swedish edition some plates were retitled. For the English and Swedish editions, see herein.

     David J. Fox, states in a review of the 1961 Brockhaus reprint of Sartorius’ book in The Geographical Journal, Vol. 128, No. 4 (Dec., 1962), pp. 538-539:

This book admirably fulfills its author’s intention of presenting “some views of the country and sketches of the [Mexican] people”.... Carl Sartorius Mexiko first began appearing in parts in 1855.... These engravings were made from paintings by Johann Moritz Rugendas, completed twenty years before the date (1852) of the writing of the book. Sartorius, born in Germany in 1796, emigrated in 1824. He was probably influenced by Humboldt in choosing to settle in Mexico. After success in mining he established himself as a wealthy haciendado (he quotes the Mexican saying “de labrador a minero, gran majadero; de minero a labrador, gran señor”), he travelled, and he observed. His sugar estate, in the tropical lowlands of Vera Cruz, lay at the foot of the snow-capped volcano Orizaba (17,800 feet); writing in this magnificent setting, his over-enthusiastic view of the potentialities of his adopted country is understandable and pardonable. The first part of the book samples and illustrates the varied landscapes progressively met westwards of Vera Cruz: the sandy coast of the Gulf, the savanna of the “Andean” foothills, the evergreen forest above, the pine forests of the highlands, the interior plateaus with their “Indian vineyards”, and the western slope to the “South Sea.” Volcanoes and barrancas are given separate chapters. In the longer, latter part, Sartorius expresses forthright views on the white nobility, on the creoles (“unfit for a continuance of heavy labour”), on the aboriginal Indians (“incapable of a high degree of intellectual development”) and on the mestizo. In describing town life he pays little attention to political and religious matters; squalid suburbs and overstrained sewage systems, however, claimed comment. The pictures of rural feudalism in the cultivated area and the Spartan life of the pastoralists of the northern plateau are still vivid. The book ends with a description of mines and miners.

     Carl Christian Wilhelm Sartorius (1796-1872) was a German theologian, educator and writer. Because of his liberal political views, he was arrested and emigrated to Mexico in 1824. At first he worked on a farm, then managed a silver mine, and began his literary work. In 1839 he established a hacienda and grew sugar cane on a large scale. He returned to Germany on 1849, and became a spokesman for Mexico, delivering lectures, encouraging German emigration to Mexico, and distributing his work Importancia de México para la emigración alemana. He returned to Mexico and settled there permanently on the Hacienda del Mirador at Huatusco in the state of Vera Cruz. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Vol. 30, p. 380.

     German artist Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858) gained fame for his art work depicting ethnographic and landscape subjects in the Americas in the first half of the nineteenth century. Descended from a notable line of engravers and painters in Augsburg going back to the 1600s, Rugendas undertook rather dry academic training at the Munich Art Academy in 1817, and his true inspiration was to paint landscapes from nature. In 1821 he jumped at the chance to escape the unsatisfying academy and joined the Langsdorff expedition to South America to explore and paint the jungle. Not content with the confines of the scientific expedition and impassioned by South America, its countryside, cities and towns, flora and fauna, people, and exciting political times, Rugendas dissolved his contract with Langsdorff and undertook publication of an illustrated atlas of his travels in America. His evolving Romantic sensibility was cemented when he met Alexander von Humboldt in Paris on his journey home. The explorer savant greatly admired Rugendas’ illustrations and encouraged him to travel and create art in the Americas. Rugendas wrote to Humboldt stating his vision of his images of America: “I feel this role of interpreter. I worked hard and wanted to be the illustrator of the new lands discovered by Columbus in the New World. I wanted to show the world what the tropics offer in scenic treasures.... I felt called to be the pilot of the arts in a field that others may represent as exhaustive.”

     After a sojourn in Augsburg and Italy for personal and artistic reasons, Rugendas continued his travels in America in 1831, eventually visiting Haiti, Mexico (where he was incarcerated and expelled from the country in a failed coup against Mexico’s president, Anastasio Bustamante, in 1834), Chile, the Andes, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and revisiting Brazil. Due to an accident in Peru in 1838, the rigors of his treks, and a demanding royal commission, he lost his strength. Humboldt came to his rescue, but Rugendas died in 1858, leaving us aesthetically pleasing and invaluable pictorial documentation of America in the nineteenth century. Fortunately, his legacy consisted of close to four thousand pieces, including drawings, watercolors and oil paintings. “Western art can boast few documentary painters of true distinction. Of those whose lives and works we know in detail, the finest was Rugendas.... Rugendas was a genre painter. His genre was the physiognomy of nature, based on a procedure invented by Humboldt. The great naturalist was the father of a discipline that virtually died with him: ...a kind of artistic geography, an aesthetic understanding of the world, a science of landscape” (César Aria, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter,New York: New Directions Books, 2006).


Auction 23 Abstracts

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