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One of the Great Collections of Early American Views
In the Original Covers
New York City & State/ New England/ New Jersey/ Pennsylvania/ Art History. .
MILBERT, Jacques-Gerard [Paris, 1826-29]
Itineraire Pittoresque du Fleuve Hudson et Des Parties Laterales L’Amerique du Nord Dapres les dessius originaux pris sur les lieur pas J. Milbert….
13 x 19 ½ inches
Oblong folio in original brown, heavy-board covers with engraved title page printed thereon. Complete atlas volume only. 54 plates: 1 original-colored, folding map 53 lithographed views. Plate size of views: 10 x 12 ½ inches. Very light to moderately heavy foxing on a few plates; overall very good.
A contemporary-bound, complete volume of 53 plates (plus a folding map), whose Romantic focus on highly dramatic vistas anticipated the art of the Hudson River School. In fact, the perspectives of some of the views are highly reminiscent of specific paintings of the school that would appear quite a bit later. Milbert’s Itineraire was also one of the first extensive uses of lithography and amply demonstrated its potential for artistic effects. While many of the plates are of stunning scenes along the Hudson River, Milbert also included finely realized urban views of New York City, Boston, Providence, and Albany, as well as of street scenes within some of these. There are also two views of West Point and ones of Lake George, Saratoga Springs, of scenes in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and in Passaic, New Jersey, and one of the Natural Bridge in Virginia.
Milbert, who worked for a time as an engineer in addition to being an artist and naturalist, was particularly drawn to the movement of water at its most forceful—cataracts, falls and dams—and was especially effective in evoking these in this work. The grandeur and impression of great force of the Niagara Falls are conveyed in four plates on that subject alone. The folding map that begins the volume lists along the sides the 53 numbered plates in the work and keys them to the map.
Jacques-Gérard Milbert (1766–1840) arrived in the United States from France in 1815 and would remain for eight years before returning. He settled in New York City, where he at first produced several drawings of the mechanical parts of steamboats. He then turned to portrait painting and taught drawing. Milbert was later attached to the commission in charge of the leveling prior to the construction of the Champlain Canal. While journeying up the Hudson River in connection with this work, he collected much of the material for the present work. A few years after his arrival in New York he was charged by M. Hyde de Neuville, the French Minister, with the collection of natural history specimens for the King's Garden in Paris. In his report on this collection, he styles himself "Voyageur, Naturaliste du Gouvernement et Correspondant du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle au Jardin du Roi." It was through Milbert's efforts that the first living specimen of the American buffalo came to France.
This volume is sometimes found with two quarto volumes of text, in which Milbert gave an account of his travels describing the natural history en route. However, just as often, this volume is offered alone on the market as here. One reason for this is that the plates were issued in 13 parts over a period of three years, thus some original buyers may have subscribed to the plate volume alone. Each plate in our volume has on it the number of the part of the series it is from along with its number within the part. This is in addition to having the number of its occurrence in the volume. What distinguishes our example of this work from most others we’ve seen is the excellent state of preservation of the original engraved covers.
Brunet III, 1713; Deak p. 299; Howes M592; Monaghan 1072; Ray, French 110; Sabin 48916; Constance D. Sherman
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