Sep 24, 2020 - Sale 2546

Sale 2546 - Lot 357

Price Realized: $ 3,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(MEXICO.) Sketchbook of Orizaba done by a French officer during the Franco-Mexican War. [73] manuscript pages. Oblong 8vo. original 1/4 calf, moderate wear; a few leaves torn out, otherwise minor wear. Orizaba and environs, 1862

Additional Details

This notebook apparently dates to the months after the 5 May 1862 Battle of Puebla, for which Cinco de Mayo is celebrated. The Mexican army defeated French imperialists, who then retreated east to the city of Orizaba. These sketches were apparently done by a French officer while the army regrouped for its next offensive. The volume concludes with a retained draft of a letter in French from the artist to an unidentified colonel, dated Encrucijada, 5 December 1862, not far west of Orizaba. It discusses other nearby towns such as Cuesta Blanca and Palmar [de Bravo]. Also included are 4 manuscript maps: Orizaba and the surrounding terrain on 2 pages; the valley route from Orizaba southwest to Acultzingo on 2 pages; and the countryside including Santiago Tenango and Quecholac west of Orizaba. Most notably, a rough map of the city of Puebla shows its defensive fortifications and the major roads to other nearby cities, with a detailed key on the facing page.
While the letter and maps seem to be military in nature, most of the sketches seem to be done for the artist's own pleasure, capturing the beauty of Mexico's landscapes and architecture. They depict street scenes, a waterfall, canyons, religious leaders, French soldiers at a café, churches, all apparently in Orizaba and the countryside to its west.