LEWIS, HENRY. 1819-1904.
Das Illustrirte Mississippithal ... vom Wasserfalle zu St. Anthony an bis zum Golf von Mexico (eine Entfernung von ungefähr 2300 englischen Meilen). Dusseldorf: Arnz & Comp., [1854-1858].
Duotone lithographed pictorial half-title and 78 color-printed lithographs after Henry Lewis with hand finishing, including a folding view of New Orleans (counting as 2 plates to make up the total of 80 as noted on the title-page). Royal 8vo (279 x 190 mm). Original printed boards. Spine perished, disbound, covers rubbed and with some old tape stains, accession number on title-page verso and on text page 27, library label on front pastedown, very occasional foxmarks or spotting, some toning to edges and scattered minor fingersoiling, about a dozen plates with very mild offsetting from text.
FIRST EDITION OF "ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ITEMS RELATING TO THE HISTORY OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY" AND "ONE OF A HALF-DOZEN GREAT AND RARE BOOKS RELATING TO NORTH AMERICA" (Littell and Graff).
Henry Lewis was born in England and settled in St. Louis in 1836. His most ambitious painting was a 1000-foot-long panorama of the Mississippi, unveiled to the St. Louis public in 1849. He toured the panorama in Europe in 1851 and ended up settling in an artists colony in Dusseldorf in 1853, the year before the publication of the present work. Publication was intended in both English and German. Although the English-language version is not extant, the plates have primarily bilingual or English-only captions. This work is extremely rare in America; apparently the publishers' business failed shortly after producing the work; very few copies were sold, most of the edition remained warehoused until it was sold as wastepaper (see J. C. Bay's introduction to the reprint of 1923).
The justly celebrated plates include the magnificent double-page view of New Orleans and early views of Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Louis, Prairie du Chien, Cassville in 1829, Galena, Quincy, Dubuque, Hannibal, Cairo, Memphis, Vicksburg and Baton Rouge. There are also images of Indian scenes, steamboat life, a prairie fire, encamped U.S. troops, the Mormon Temple at Nauvoo, and the Battle of Bad Axe. "Much of what we know about the character of these raw, new communities of the frontier comes from the images Lewis created" (Reps).Complete listing of plates with condition details available upon request. Deak 552; Graff 2474; Howes L312 ("dd"); Littell 642; Reps, Views and Viewmakers 29; Sabin 40807; Streeter sale 1547.
Acquisition: Siebert sale, Sotheby's New York, October 28, 1999, lot 718, $57,500.
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