Comprehensive 19th century colorplate travel book in green embossed bindings with rococo title, comprised of 27 handsome chromolithograph views (each within decorative blue border in the baroque taste), a decorative chromolithograph title page with gilt lettering, and two folding black-and-white maps – one of Cuba and the other of Havana. No text, as issued. The views include several of Havana and other port cities from the water, urban landmarks, and scenes of daily life and folk customs in rural villages. Many of the urban views also include people in period dress. Some of the rural scenes also include Afro-Cubans. In addition, there are two maps en suite, one of the Island of Cuba and one of Havana. (See the list of plates and maps below.) The plates are based on paintings made by a French artist who taught at the art academy at Havana, and were printed by Storch & Kramer, one of the leading printing firms specializing in color lithography in mid 19th century Europe.
This book was originally issued as Viaje Pintoresco al Rededor de la Isla de Cuba (Havana, 1847-48). In the 1850s, it was reissued in two alternate versions. The offered example, as described here, has 27 full color plates with Spanish titles, and two maps without vignettes. The other version had 26 plates, tinted but not colored, titles in three languages, and vignettes on the maps.
Pierre Toussaint Frédéric Mialhe was a French painter and engraver, known in Cuba as Federico Mialhe. He was a student of Picot and exhibited his views of countries and cities at the Paris Salon from 1831 to 1861. He lived in Havana from 1838 to 1854, initially arriving under contract to the printing house of the Real Sociedad Patriótica, to document the island. He also served as a drawing professor at the art academy in Havana and associated with the Cuban intellectuals of the era. Together, his collections Isla de Cuba, Isla de Cuba Pintoresca and Viaje Pintoresco por la Isla de Cuba remain as important documents of colonial Cuba, and were so popular in Europe that Viaje Pintoresco por la Isla de Cuba was reprinted there as Album Pintoresco de la Isla de Cuba. The Museum of Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux has some of Miahle’s landscape paintings in its collection. The born-died dates for the artist shown above are from Bénézit, however, other references vary.
The title page places the title in decorative mid 19th century typography against a landscape view of the entrance to the port of Havana. Within the lettering are images of the Madonna and a Spanish explorer on horseback. In the foreground, jungle foliage frames the scene, with a still life of allegorical symbols on the ground: farming implements, a caduceus (medical symbol), an artist’s palette, a shield resting on an open book, a globe, an anchor and rolled paper (probably representing a sea chart), a sculptor’s mallet and marble bust, and a wrapped parcel.
Following the title page are these plates:
1. Morro y Entrada Puerto de la Habana [Morro and Entrance to the Port of Havana]
2. Vista de la Habana: Tornada desde la entrada del puerto (Numero 1)[View of Havana from the port entrance]
3. Vista de la Habana Parte de Estramuros: Tornada desde la entrada del Puerto [View of Havana Part of Estramuros: From the port entrance]
4. Habana: 1a Vista tornada desde Casa-Blanca [Havana: 1st View from Casa-Blanca]
5. Habana: 2a Vista tornada desde Casa-Blanca [Havana: 2nd View from Casa-Blanca]
6. Habana: 3a Vista tornada desde Casa Blanca (sic) [Havana: 3rd View from Casa Blanca]
7. Plaza de Armas
8. Puertas de Monserrate [Gates of Monserrate]
9. Teatro de Tacon y Parte del Paseo de Jsabel (sic) II: Vista tornada desde la puerta del Monserrate [Theater of Tacon and Part of Avenue Isabel II: View from the gate of Monserrate]
10. Fuente de la Jndia (sic) en el paseo de Jsabel II (sic)[Fountain of India in the Avenue Isabel II]
11. Alameda de Paula [Boulevard of Paula]
12. El Quitrin
13. El Panadero y El Malojero [The Baker and the Malojero]
14. El Casero [The Landlord]
15. Valla de Gallos [Cock Fighting Ring]
16. Dia de Reyes [The Holy King’s day]
17. El Zapateado [The Zapateado (national dance)]
19. Morro y Entrada del Puerto de Santiago de Cuba [Morro Castle & Entrance of the Port of Santiago de Cuba]
20. Vista Geñl de la Ciudad y Montañas de Baracoa (Costa del Norte) [General View of the City and Montains of Baracoa (North Coast)]
21. Cercanias de Baracoa y modo de viajar de sus naturales [Outskirts of Baracoa and mode of travel through its “naturales”]
22. Vista de la Iglesia Mayor y de La Ermita del Buen Viaje en San Juan de los Remedios [View of the Major Church and the Hermitage of the Good Voyage in San Juan de los Remedios]
23. Vivienda de los Pescadores de Esponjas: Bahia de Nuevitas [Fishermens’ Housing of Esponias: Bahia de Nuevitas]
25. Corrida de Toros [Bull Fighting Ring]
26. Vista de Una Casa de Calderas [View of a Boiler House]
27. Vista de Una Vega de Tabaco [View of a Tobacco Plantation]
• Mapa Historico Pintoresco Moderno de la Isla de Cuba. Detailed “historic, picturesque, modern” map of the island, including a “Tabla Iteneraria”: a table of the longitude and latitude of important towns, and the distances between them.
• Plano Pintoresco de la Habana con los numeros de las casas. Detailed “picturesque plan of the city of Havana with house numbers,” including streets and boulevards with location of house numbers indicated, important buildings such as the arsenal, theaters, and churches, and facilities such as beaches and parks. Small inset map lower right corner of “Puerto y Cercanias de la Habana” [Gate and Surroundings of Havana].
Condition: This book and its prints and maps have recently been completely professionally restored by a bookbinder and paper conservator. Covers very good with the usual overall light toning, soiling wear. Spine replaced. The prints and maps are now loose in the original binding. The binding has been enhanced by the bookbinder with the addition of a pocket formed of three internal flaps to hold the prints in place when the book is on a shelf. The prints are conveniently viewable in this format, and some or all can be removed for framing, as desired, or left entirely or partially in book form. Prints are very good with the usual overall light toning and wear — each has been cleaned and deacidified. The toning of the paper varies for each print, from whiter to creamier. They have some scattered light browning, foxing, handling, soiling, smudges, etc., mostly confined to the margins and not obtrusive. Some short tears to the margins of various prints, all restored. Margins of title page reduced, but still ample, and now mounted on archival sheet the same size as the prints, thereby recreating the margins and restoring two marginal tears. Maps fold as issued, now backed on Japanese paper to strengthen and restore wear and minor penings and losses at folds and marginal chips. Tissue guards lacking.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 6, p. 102.
Cueto, Emilio. Miahle’s Colonial Cuba. Miami: Historical Association of Southern Florida, 1994. pp. 73-77.
“Descriptive Remarks on Illuminations in Certain Ancient Irish Manuscripts, by J.H. Todd.” Library of the Medieval Institute. http://www.nd.edu/~medvllib/facsintro/irishmss.html (9 February 2007).
“Federico Mialhe.” Cubarte Gallery. 2006. http://www.galeriacubarte.cult.cu/g_artista.php?item=165&lang=eng (9 February 2007).
Sabin, Joseph, Wilberforce Eames and R.W.G. Vail. Dictionary of Books Relating to America: From Its Discovery to the Present Time, Volumes I and II. Martino Pub, Mansfield Center, CT, 1998. 17748.