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Map, California, Pictorial, Yosemite, Jo Mora, Vintage Print, 1940s


Jo (Joseph Jacinto) Mora (1876-1947)
Jo Mora: 1931 (copyright)
Yosemite & Curry Company: 1941, 1949 (later states)
Color process print
17.75 x 13.75 inches, image
19.75 x 15.75 inches, overall

The example of this map shown here is sold but we have another one available. Please email for jpeg of the very one.  It is $1,100.

[T]he far-famed [Yosemite] valley came suddenly into view throughout almost its whole extent: the noble walls, sculptured into endless variety of domes and gables, spires and battlements and plain mural precipices, all a-tremble with the thunder tones of the falling water. The level bottom seemed to be dressed like a garden, sunny meadows here and there and groves of pine and oak, the river of Mercy sweeping in majesty through the midst of them and flashing back the sunbeams. –John Muir (1838-1914).

A brightly colored illustrated map of Yosemite National Park by Jo Mora, a renowned American designer of pictorial maps, which he referred to as “cartes.” It exhibits his characteristic whimsical touch, and flair for bright colors, combined with geographic and historical detail. Numerous pictorial illustrations show recreational activities and distinctive rock formations such as El Capitan, represented by a Spanish conquistador; the Royal Arches, represented by a king; Cathedral Spires, shown with a bishop; and Clouds’ Rest, with a puffy white cloud asleep in an armchair at the summit. The steep half dome snow covered rock formation is shown upper center (which incidentally was first successfully skied in 2021). The verdant green glacial valley is shown in the center bustling with recreational activity. The lower border includes images of winter sports and activities, such as skiing, tobogganing, ice skating, building a snowman and snowball fighting. The map is surrounded by a decorative border incorporating Native American motifs and vignettes of various leisure activities including riding, swimming and dancing. Interspersed throughout are comical flights of fancy such as a man photographing two bears as they pose for a portrait, and a family running from their picnic blanket as bears eat their food. As Mora explains in a caption beneath the title:

There is so much of Grandeur and reverential Solemnity to Yosemite that a bit of humor may help the better to happily reconcile ourselves to the triviality of Man. Give me the souls who smile at their devotions! Now, should this light effort—not altogether truthful, so not altogether dull—afford you a tithe of mirth, I shall feel I have added to your reverence for Yosemite.

Product description continues below.


Yosemite was first issued by Mora in color with a copyright date of 1931. It was reissued in a later state, also in color and in the same size in 1941 and 1949 by the Yosemite & Curry Company. These reissues have several alterations including a change in the sign name in the lower left from “To Big Oak Flat” to “To Tioga Pass and Big Oak Flat,” the updating of certain cars to 1940s models, and incorporating color variations. A larger black and white map was also issued in 1931.

Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora was one of the foremost pictorial mapmakers of the 20th century. According to art historian Mary Murray, it is in the pictorial maps that he created “an art form uniquely his own” that “exemplify the popular, entertaining, direct, and informative art at which Mora excelled.” His maps are characterized by humor — often with portrayals of whimsical cartoonish characters and pun-related references — simultaneously combined with detailed geography and historical references. The intent, as described by geography historian Stephen J. Hornsby, was to use “humor to make other content more interesting.”

The year after he was born in Uruguay, Mora’s family moved to the United States, eventually settling in Boston. He attended the Art Students League in New York, and by his early 20s was working as a cartoonist and illustrator for Boston newspapers and children’s book publishers. He began taking trips to the American west and Mexico in the 1890s and relocated permanently to the West in 1903, spending three years living in Arizona, drawing and studying the Hopi and the Navajo cultures. In 1920 he moved to the Monterey Peninsula of California, where he spent the rest of his life in Pebble Beach and Carmel. Like many pictorial mapmakers, Mora had wide-ranging interests and a combination of talents as an artist proficient in many media, a cartographer, a historian and an author. Over a career spanning almost 50 years, Mora illustrated several books for children as well as books on California history, completed commissioned realist sculpture and murals, and made paintings in oil and watercolor. His most original and best-known works, however, are his distinctive pictorial maps and chartswhich he referred to as “cartes.” These were mainly of places in California and include California’s Playground (1926), Monterey Peninsula (1927), The Seventeen Mile Drive (1927), California (1927), Grand Canyon (1931), Yosemite (1931) Yellowstone (1931), Ye Old Spanish Main (1933), Carmel-By-The-Sea (1942), Map of Los Angeles (1942) and a later version of California (1945). He also designed and illustrated the posters Indians of North America (1936) and The Evolution of the Cowboy (1933).

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with only light remaining toning, wear, handling,


“About.” Jo Mora Trust. 2021. (7 June 2021).

Burton-Carvajal, Julianne. “Back to the Drawing Board with Artist Jo Mora: Illustrated Chronologies of his Life, Works, and Exhibitions.” Noticias del Puerto del Puerto de Monterey, Quarterly Bulletin of the Monterey History and Art Association. Vol. 52: 3. Fall 2003. p. 15. (25 March 2022).

Hiller, Peter. The Life and Times of Jo Mora: Iconic Artist of the American West. Kaysville, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2021.

Holmes, Nigel. Pictorial Maps. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1991. p. 45

Hornsby, Stephen J. Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. pp. 28-31, 57.

Pilchen, Lloyd. “Exhibition of Jo Mora’s Whimsical Map Delights.” 29 January 2022. The American Surveyor. (22 March 2022).

Additional information


20th Century