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2006 Catalog > George Wilkins Kendall / Carl Nebel, War between U.S. and Mexico

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A Superb Set of the 1851 Nebel Plates of the Mexican War

“No country can claim that its battles have been illustrated in a richer, more faithful, or more costly style of lithograph.”
— George Wilkins Kendall

“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.”
— Review in the New Orleans Picayune, 15 July 1850

54. George Wilkins Kendall / Carl Nebel. The complete set of twelve hand-colored lithographic plates and the text from The War Between the United States and Mexico Illustrated, embracing pictorial drawings of all the principal conflicts, by Carl Nebel . . . with a description of each battle by . . . Geo. Wilkins Kendall (New York & Philadelphia: Plon Brothers of Paris for D. Appleton & Co. and George S. Appleton, 1851). Limited edition of 500 copies. Plates heightened with gum arabic. Image area of each: 11 x 17". Sheet size of each: 16 1/2 x 21 1/2". Engraved after Nebel by Bayot, printed by Lemercier in Paris. Each plate titled below the image in script. The text describes each battle and includes the full-page engraved Map of the Operations of the American Army in the Valley of Mexico in . . . 1847. Together with 20 pages of text loose in signatures. The title page and the last two signatures are badly spotted and damp-stained. The prints are trimmed and are generally in very good condition, with additional information noted below. They all exhibit fine color. A complete set of the plates with the text is rare.

Price for the Collection: SOLD.

The complete collection of twelve beautiful hand-colored prints:

1. Battle of Palo-Alto (minor scattered foxing)
2. Capture of Monterey
3. Battle of Buena Vista (faint scattered foxing)
4. Bombardment of Vera-Cruz (faint surface soiling and spotting)
5. Battle of Cerro gordo
6. Assault of Contreras
7. Battle of Churubusco
8. Molino del Rey—attack upon the molina
9. Molino del Rey—attack upon the casa-mata
10. Storming of Chapultepec—Pillow’s attack (light scattered foxing to verso)
11. Storming of Chapultepec—Quitman’s attack
12. Genl. Scott’s entrance into Mexico (faint scattered foxing)

One of the extraordinary sets of prints produced in Paris during the middle of the nineteenth century, Carl Nebel's suite of illustrations for George Wilkins Kendall's War Between the United States and Mexico, Illustrated is undoubtedly the finest pictorial work of the Mexican-American War and the most beautiful publication related to the early history of Texas. The richly executed images provide a superb complement to Kendall’s eyewitness account of the first offensive war fought by the United States. Kendall, the editor of the New Orleans Daily Picayune, became America's first great war correspondent when he accompanied the United States Army as it crossed into Mexico in 1846. Before he left Mexico, he contracted with German artist Carl Nebel, who had been in the country for years, to collaborate on an illustrated history of the war. After the war, both men went to Europe to organize the project. The hand-colored lithographs were compiled from their observations of the battles and involved the printing talents of Lemercier, one of the finest lithographers in Paris. The quality of production was second to none. The accompanying text was printed by the Picayune print shop in New Orleans and distributed by D. Appleton, the influential publisher in New York.

Aesthetically compelling and historically profound, Nebel's work received extremely high praise at the time of publication and today represents a pinnacle of achievement in several categories: historical Americana, printing techniques, and eyewitness reportage of the United States' first military conflict on foreign soil. There are not many of these prints available today. Few copies of the portfolio were printed and some were destroyed in a fire at the Picayune. This is a rare opportunity to acquire all of the images for what is perhaps the most important visual record of the Mexican-American War.

Refs.: Bennett, A Practical Guide to American Nineteenth Century Color Plate Books, p. 65; Haferkorn, p. 47; Howes K76; Raines, p. 132; Sabin, 37362; Tyler, Prints of the West, p. 78.

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