A Large Folio Representing "the Climax of the Confluence of Journalism and Lithography," With Immaculate Plates Comprising "the Very Best American Battle Scenes in Existence"


(New York & Philadelphia: [Plon Brothers of Paris for] D. Appleton & Co. and George S. Appleton, 1851). Text: 580 x 435 mm. (22 7/8 x 17 1/8"); Plates: 508 x 638 mm. (20 x 25 1/8") [size of mounts] and 387 x 527 mm. (15 1/4 x 20 3/4") [sheet size of plates]. iv, 52 pp. FIRST EDITION.

Text bound to style in red cloth-backed contemporary oatmeal-colored thick paper wrappers, the upper cover with original gilt-lettered red moiré cloth label laid down; archivally matted plates unbound within a modern four-fold red cloth portfolio. Housed together in a fine modern red morocco-backed clamshell box, its "spine" with raised bands and gilt lettering. With black & white lithographic map drawn on stone by Erhardt-Schieble and with 12 FINE HAND-COLORED LITHOGRAPHIC PLATES, HEIGHTENED WITH GUM ARABIC, by Bayot (11) or Bayot & Bichebois (1) after Nebel, printed in Paris by Lemercier. Bennett, "American 19th Century Color Plate Books," p. 65; Sandweiss et al., "Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848," pp. 36-37; Howes K-76; Sabin 37362. ◆Board of text volume lightly soiled, edges of text leaves slightly yellowed, but AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY, the text clean and fresh, THE BEAUTIFULLY COLORED PLATES IN IMMACULATE CONDITION.

This is a landmark work of lithographic illustration: an account of the major battles of the Mexican-American War (1846-48) by a man considered the first modern war correspondent; it is highlighted by vivid color plates Bennett considers "the very best American battle scenes in existence." In the preface Kendall (1809-67) tells us the plates are almost all based on sketches "drawn on the spot by the artist. So far as regards the general configuration of the ground, fidelity of the landscape, and correctness of the works and buildings introduced, they may be strictly relied upon. . . . the greatest care has been taken to avoid inaccuracies." A co-founder of the "New Orleans Picayune," Kendall was already a well-known journalist when he began reporting on the war over Texas between the U.S. and Mexico. Firmly believing that Texas should join the Union, Kendall travelled with the U.S. troops led by Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, sending dispatches to the "Picayune" with unprecedented speed. He was sufficiently involved in battles to capture a Mexican cavalry flag and to be wounded in the knee. "Eyewitness to War" considers this work "the climax of the confluence of journalism and lithography," declaring that the illustrations by Carl Nebel (1805-55) are "the eyewitness prints that must be compared against all others," and noting that Kendall's text was either a firsthand account or was based on "the official reports of the different commanders and their subordinates." Of the dozen large folio views that comprise the value of this work, the most famous is the triumphant scene showing Scott's entrance into Mexico City, with the U.S. flag flying over the National Palace. Kendall and artist Carl Nebel (1805-55) agreed that the latter's paintings should be drawn on stone, printed, and hand colored in Paris, where Nebel's renowned series of 50 lithographic plates, "Voyage pittoresque et archéologique dans la partie la plus intéressante du Méxique," had been produced. Both men travelled to France to watch over the project, undertaken by noted lithographer Adolphe Jean-Baptiste Bayot (1810- 66) and printer Joseph-Rose Lemercier (1803-87), head of a leading Parisian workshop known for pioneering work in color and photo lithography. The "Picayune" praised the final result in a (perhaps biased, but not inaccurate) July 1850 review: "We have never seen anything to equal the artistic skill, perfection of design, marvelous beauty of execution, delicacy of truth of coloring, and lifelike animation of figures. . . . They present the most exquisite specimens ever exhibited in this country of the art of colored lithography; and we think that great praise ought to be awarded to Mr. Kendall for having secured such brilliant and beautiful and costly illustrations for the faithful record of the victories of the American army." Bennett tells us the text and plates are usually found bound together in half leather, but the plates here are in their original unbound state, beautifully preserved in archival mats.

Price: $28,000.00