Paris: Lemercier, 1851. First Edition. Hand-colored lithograph on thick paper (image size: 275 x 420 mm; sheet size: 365 x 475), with gum arabic highlights. Very light marginal foxing, small section of sky in upper left corner with foxing (not objectionable). Lower right corner creased, resulting in small unimportant tear, strips of clear tape on verso (see images). Overall in excellent condition, the colors bright and fresh. Very good. Item #3460
First impression of one of the finest 19th-century lithographs of Texas. According to Bennett, it is one of “The very best American battle scenes in existence.” This lithograph appeared in George Wilkins Kendall and Carlos Nebel’s War Between the United States and Mexico Illustrated (New York & Philadelphia: Appleton, 1851), in which it was the first illustration. The work has been described by Tyler as a “Magnificently produced portfolio by the first modern war correspondent” (The Mexican War, A Lithographic Record, p. 11).
Fought on Texas soil north of Brownsville, the Battle of Palo Alto (May 8, 1846), was the first major engagement of the Mexican-American War and the first U.S. victory. Nebel's drawings are believed to be among the most accurate depictions of U.S. combat at that time. The prints from the present series are notoriously difficult to acquire in acceptable condition. Normally they are marred by heavy foxing; ours, however, is quite clean and attractive.
Swiss-German artist Carl Nebel (1805-1855) lived in Mexico from 1829 to 1834, after which time he created the esteemed "Voyage pittoresque et archeologique dans la partie la plus interessante du Mexique" (Paris, 1836) with an introduction by Humboldt. The lithographs which bear his name are prized not only for their artistic sensibilities but for the technical perfection achieved by Adolphe Bayot, who drew the present "Battle of Palo-Alto" on stone, and the printer Joseph Lemercier.
Bennett, American Nineteenth-Century Color Plate Books, p. 65. Christensen, The U.S.-Mexican War, p. 181. Garrett & Goodwin, Mexican-American War, p. 31. Howes K76. Kurutz & Mathes, The Forgotten War, p. 148. Palau 188868. Peters, America on Stone, p. 295. Raines, p. 132. Sabin 37362. Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerroeotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, No. 5 (p. 109), Plate 2 (p. 76). Tyler, op. cit., p. 18: “Of all the Mexican War lithographs, perhaps the dozen by Kendall and Nebel are the most popular, as well as the most accurate.” Tyler, Prints of the West, p. 78.