Lady Emily Elizabeth Swinburne Ward’s Rare Plate Book

Six Views of Mining Towns in Mexico in 1829

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579. WARD, Mrs. H.G. [Emily Elizabeth Swinburne, Lady]. Six Views of the Most Important Towns, and Mining Districts, upon the Table Land of Mexico. Drawn by Mrs. H[enry] G[eorge] Ward, and Engraved by Mr. Pye. With a Statistical Account of Each. London: Henry Colburn, New Burlington Street, 1829 [verso of title and verso of last leaf] London: Printed by S. and R. Bentley, Dorset Street, Fleet Street. 8 leaves (title and text), 6 finely engraved uncolored plates (see list following). Oblong folio (33.8 x 50.2 cm), contemporary three-quarter burgundy calf over marbled boards, gilt-lettered red morocco label on upper cover gilt lettered: Views in Mexico. Expertly rebacked (original spine preserved), binding moderately worn with some losses to marbled paper, upper hinge partially split but holding well; front free endpaper wrinkled at far left, with three short marginal tears (no losses), and chipped at lower edge; occasional light foxing, otherwise fine, new acid-free tissue guards inserted. Very rare.

Plate List

I.   Guadalaxara. Border to border: 10.7 x 34.4 cm

II.  Zacatecas. Border to border:15.7 x 36.2 cm

III. Sombrerete. Border to border:23.4 x 16.0 cm

IV.  Catorce. Border to border:16 x 23.3 cm

V.   Valladolid. Border to border:11.5 x 32.7 cm

VI.  Tlalpujahua. Border to border:16.0 x 23.4 cm

All with imprints: [Lower left below image] Drawn by Mrs. H.G. Ward. [lower right] Engraved by John Pye. [centered below title] London: Published by H. Colburn, 1829.

     First edition. Abbey, Travel in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860, Vol. II, pp. 600-601, #668 (entry for H.G. Ward’s Mexico in 1827, but with discussion of the present book). Palau 373996. Sabin 101287. In discussing the present work, Abbey notes an ad for it appeared on the half-title verso of her husband’s book (see next entry herein). Abbey states that copies of Lady Ward’s book are found colored and uncolored. Some copies have the plates uncolored and mounted on india proof paper. The present copy has uncolored plates that are not mounted on india proof paper. The very delicate and detailed engravings appear to be a combination of etching and engraving. The book was published at a time of heightened European and English interest in mining in Mexico, a direct result of Humboldt’s great works on Mexico.

     The talented Lady Ward (1798-1882) was married to Henry G. Ward, the English chargé d’affaires for Mexico in 1825-1827. Mr. Ward refers to Mrs. Ward numerous times in Vol. II of his book, Mexico in 1827. He clearly loves her art and thinks her drawings are an excellent addition to the work. He regrets that she did not create drawings for his earlier journeys (p. 372). He also praises her maternal qualities under less-than-ideal conditions. At one point, one of their babies needs to nurse, so he rides all over looking for her. When the children are sick, she tends to them. She prefers horseback to a bumpy carriage. She slept in a barn when necessary. About the attitude of the locals toward her, he writes (pp. 635-636):

Mrs. Ward usually employed her time in drawing while I was visiting the mines; and, though always surrounded by a crowd, she never experienced the slightest incivility upon such occasions, except at Veta Grande. In general, people were much delighted with the novelty of the performance; and I have seen Indians standing round her for an hour together, watching every motion of the pencil, and holding in turn an umbrella to shelter her from the sun. At Guanajuato, where fifty or sixty people were collected, while she was taking a view of the town from the Valenciana mine, we were much amused at the astonishment expressed on seeing her inquire the names of the principal points, and writing them down upon the margin of her sketch. “Pinta, y escribe tambien!” (she draws, and writes too!) was the general exclamation; and such an accumulation of talents in the same individual excited universal respect. But at Veta Grande she was surrounded by a sullen and gloomy mob, who purposely put themselves in her way, so as to prevent her from seeing the mines; and were only compelled to give her a little room, by the exertions of Don Rafael Beraza, who mounted his horse, and rode in amongst them until by degrees they were fairly driven back.

     English engraver and author John Pye (1782-1874) was known for his excellent dry-point technique and expert use of chiaroscuro. He had a long collaboration with J.M.W. Turner, and also translated the paintings of Claude Lorrain, Gaspar Poussin, and others into engravings. Pye loved Paris, where he won many prizes. He is credited as the founder of modern landscape engraving. He wrote Patronage of British Art (1845).

Sold. Hammer: $6,000.00; Price Realized: $7,350.00.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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