Croton Falls, NY: The Spiral Press, 1932. First Edition. 72 pp. Folio. Bound in original navy blue buckram, title gilt on front cover and spine, trifle wear along board edges, covers slightly scuffed, patterned blue and red endpapers. As is true in all copies, the textblock has a faint yellow/brown tint on account of the paper stock. Signed by the author on the front flyleaf. Very Good. Item #3366
Edition limited to 300 copies. An important resource on Mexican architecture and pottery. Author’s presentation copy: "For Elizabeth Fleming / who liked Casa Manana / with a Viva Mexico! from / Elizabeth Morrow / May 1933." Containing numerous reproduced drawings by William Spratling, as well as 14 photoplates of Mexican artifacts. The book describes pieces from the Morrow's collection of handmade ceramic pots, lacquerware trays, and striking textiles which they stored at their Spanish-colonial style retreat in Cuernavaca.
"Casa Manana" is divided into three sections: "Our Street in Cuernavaca," "Plans and Details of Casa Manana," and "Mexicana." The first includes many drawings of street scenes, various gardens and houses (including that of Sir Esmond Ovey), and multiple pieces of Mexican pottery and furniture, both with detailed designs. The second part serves as a series of blueprints and sketches of the house which the author and Spratling stayed at in Cuernavaca in 1928, on No. 12 Calle General Arteaga. This includes drawings of the entrance doorway, the patio, the pool, verandas and balustrades, and fountains with tile designs, all with highly detailed descriptions of design features and materials used in their construction. The final section is composed of photographs which show the outdoor and indoor furnishings of Casa Mañana, chosen to adorn the house "to show how easily the native handicraft wares as well as old colonial objects lend themselves to decoration and daily use." The author then follows with a brief discussion of the dual use of Mexican handicraft wares, their functionality combined with their artistic qualities. This is followed finally by the photographs themselves, each very detailed with descriptions of the item and where each was designed. Included are various items such as water jars, plates, batea, jewelry boxes, sarape de saltillo, chests, tecomates, and finally a mosaic representing San Igancio de Loyola.
Elizabeth Morrow's husband, Dwight, served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the late 1920s. The Casa Manana estate, therefore, became far more than just a weekend getaway. At Casa Manana, the Morrows entertained Mexico's leading political and cultural figures. Here, Elizabeth's love of traditional handicrafts merged with her husband's political instincts to use popular, indigenous art and culture as a diplomatic tool to celebrate Mexico. Thus was born a wonderful collection of historical Mexican art, numerous pieces of which were exhibited as part of one of the first major exhibitions of Mexican art in the United States (1930-1931). Part of the collection now resides at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, bequeathed by Elizabeth Morrow before her death in 1955. See the important exhibition: "Casa Manana: The Morrow Collection of Mexican Popular Arts" held in 2002.