• Travel, Science and Natural Hi auction at Christies

    Sale 5489

    Travel, Science and Natural History

    22 April 2010, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 182

    Frederick Catherwood (1799-1854)

    The Palacio, Chiapas, Mexico

    Price Realised  


    Frederick Catherwood (1799-1854)
    The Palacio, Chiapas, Mexico
    watercolour on paper
    8½ x 12½in. (21.6 x 31.8cm.)

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    The ruin is incorporated in Catherwood's "General View of the Palenque (Chiapas, Mexico)", plate VI of his Views: 'One of the last cities of Old Maya Empire to be erected, Palenque is situated in Chiapas, Mexico - bordering Guatemala and is situated in the Tumbala Hills. The Maya architects placed it at the end of a deep gorge flanked on three of its sides by towering verdured hills. A little less than one thousand feet above sea level, Palenque is intensely tropical. Drawn from a number of different sketches - for the ruins were jungle-covered and offered no panorama - as Catherwood freely admits, this lithograph shows the principal Palenque buildings: the Palacio to the extreme right, enclosing four sunken courts that fashion it into an architectural complex; the Temples of the Sun, the Cross and the Foliated Cross; all stand on high pyramids - dramatised in the illustrations. The Palenque was occupied during the seventh and eighth centuries ...' (V.W. von Hagen, Frederick Catherwood Arch., New York, 1950)

    Catherwood described the district in his Introduction to Views of Ancient Monuments: "Palenque, in Chiapas, the most southern province of Mexico, is better known than any other of the ruined American cities ... The principal building is (with reason, I think) called the Palace. It stands on an artificial mound, whose base is three hundred and ten feet by two hundred and sixty feet, and forty feet high, with staircases on the four sides. The building itself measures two hundred and twenty-eight feet by one hundred and eighty feet, twenty five feet high, and is of one story. The front and rear have each fourteen doorways, and eleven on each end. The other buildings are of inferior size to the Palace, but all on high mounds, richly decorated with numerous stone tablets of hieroglyphics, and sculptures of figures well executed, which have awakened a busy interest in the antiquarian world."

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    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    By descent from the artist's goddaughter Emily ... to the present owner (inscription 'Croquis de Catherwood (parrain de ma tante Emily) voyage with John Stevens in Yucatan Francis Viele-Griffin' on the backing board).