27 September 2006
PIERRE TOUSSAINT FRÉDERIC MIALHE (1810-1881)
Isla de Cuba pintoresca. [Havana]: Litografia de la Real Sociedad Patriótica [n.d., but c.1839-42]. Oblong 4° (260 x 347mm). 29 lithographed plates (only, of 49?) after Frederic Mialhe, 6 with later hand-colouring. (Spotting and occasional browning throughout, plate I with old fold.) Contemporary blue cloth, title in gilt on upper cover, with bookseller's ticket on rear pastedown (extremities rubbed, some minor staining, hinges partially cracked, head and foot of spine starting to detach).
EXTREMELY RARE ALBUM BY CUBA'S MASTER LITHOGRAPHER: 'ONE OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING ENTERPRISES OF ITS KIND EVER ATTEMPTED IN CUBA' (Cueto). Mialhe left France for Cuba in 1838 to become the landscape painter of the lithographic firm newly established by François Cosnier and Alexandre Moreau de Jonnès under the sponsorship of the Royal Patriotic and Economic Society of Cuba. These so-called 'French lithographers', rivals to the Spanish workshop of the Costa brothers, became the foremost such venture in Cuba. The lithographs were scheduled to be issued in twelve instalments of four prints each, but such an ambitious scheme could not be sustained and publication became intermittent after the ninth issue. Although the figure of 49 has been suggested, it is difficult to establish with certainty how many plates were actually produced. RARE: no other copy of Mialhe's Isla de Cuba is recorded at auction by ABPC since 1975. Palau 121980; Cueto, Mialhe's Colonial Cuba, pp.1-3, 25-28.
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