KENDALL, George Wilkins; and Carl NEBEL
The War between the United States and Mexico illustrated, embracing pictorial drawings of all the principal conflicts ... with a description of each battle
New York & Philadelphia: [Plon Brothers of Paris for] D. Appleton & Co. and George S. Appleton, 1851. Folio. 12 hand-coloured lithographic plates on card, heightened with gum arabic, by Bayot (11) or Bayot & Bichebois (1) after Nebel, printed by Lemercier in Paris, 1 lithographed map. Original front wrapper bound in.
Expertly bound to style in green morocco backed period cloth boards, covers stamped in gilt, flat spine lettered in gilt
One of the most important pictorial works relating to the Mexican-American War.
"We have never seen anything to equal the artistic skill, perfection of design, marvellous beauty of execution, delicacy of truth of coloring, and lifelike animation of figures...They present the most exquisite specimens ever exhibited in this country of the art of colored lithography; and we think that great praise ought to be awarded to Mr. Kendall for having secured such brilliant and beautiful and costly illustrations for the faithful record of the victories of the American army" (review in the New Orleans Picayune, July 15, 1850, commenting on the pre-publication proofs of the plates).
Kendall was America's first great war correspondent, and an ardent proponent of the necessity of America's war with Mexico. When hostilities broke out, he went at once to the Rio Grande where he joined with the Rangers, and later attached himself to the Scott expedition. For this work he keyed his text to the individual plates, and the combination affords a detailed illustrated account of each battle. The plates are the work of the German artist, Carl Nebel, who painted the twelve major clashes of the war. Kendall notes in his preface: "Of the twelve illustrations accompanying his work ... the greater number were drawn on the spot by the artist. So far as regards the general configuration of the ground, fidelity of the landscape, and correctness of the works and buildings introduced, they may be strictly relied upon. Every reader must be aware of the impossibility, in painting a battle scene, of giving more than one feature or principal incident of the strife. The artist has ever chosen what he deemed the more interesting as well as exciting points of each combat ... in the present series of illustrations the greatest care has been taken to avoid inaccuracies." The authors of Eyewitness to War wrote approvingly that the present work "represents the climax of the confluence of journalism and lithography on the prints of the Mexican war" and that Nebel's images are "the eyewitness prints that must be compared against all others." For the text Kendall drew on "the official reports of the different commanders and their subordinates" for the text, but "was present at many of the battles" and "personally examined the ground on which all save that of Buena Vista were fought" (for information on this he relied on a Captain Carleton).
The plates are titled: "Battle of Palo-alto"; "Capture of Monterey"; "Battle of Buena Vista"; "Bombardment of Vera-Cruz"; "Battle of Cerro gordo"; "Assault of Contreras"; "Battle at Churubusco"; "Molino del Rey - attack upon the molino"; "Molino del Rey - attack upon the casamata"; "Storming of Chapultepec - Pillow's attack"; "Storming of Chapultepec - Quitman's attack"; "Gen. Scott's entrance into Mexico." It is interesting to note that while the work was published by the Appletons of New York and Philadelphia, the lithographs were produced in Paris. Both Kendall and Nebel felt that the Paris lithographers alone were qualified to produce their images and they both spent some time in Europe overseeing the production of the work, for which Kendall and Nebel shared all the costs. An article on Kendall in the December 1965 issue of American Legion Magazine notes that "few [copies of this work] were printed, and some destroyed in a fire at the Picayune" (Tom Mahoney, Our First Great War Correspondent).