MORAN, Thomas (1837-1926) & William Henry HOLMES (1846-1933), illustrators. - Clarence E.DUTTON (1841-1912)
Tertiary History [with: Atlas to accompany the monograph on the tertiary history] of the Grand Cañon district
Washington: [text:] Government Printing Office, [atlas: Julius Bien & Co. of New York (for the Government Printing Office)], 1882. 2 volumes (quarto text and folio atlas). Text: ,xiv,264pp. plus forty-two plates, plans, and maps (including two chromolithographed views by Sinclair after Holmes, seventeen wood-engraved views [eight after Thomas Moran, nine after Holmes], four "Heliotype" plates), ten double-page. Atlas: [2,title leaf],1p. letterpress text, otherwise lithographed throughout with twelve double-page map-sheets after Dutton (eleven printed in colors), ten double-page sheets of views after Holmes (9) and Moran (1) (five chromolithographed and five printed in tints), all printed by Julius Bien & Co. Short horizontal tear to outer margin of one leaf (pp.101-02), slightly longer tears to outer margins of pp.165-66 and pp.245-46, just touching a few words. Repaired tear to front blank of atlas volume, a few instances of minor marginal thumb-soiling.
Publisher's cloth gilt, atlas rebacked with original cloth laid down. Spine ends of text volume chipped, with a few small nicks to the cloth along the joints, spine lightly sunned, corners rubbed
"One of the grandest publications of the scientific expeditions in the American West… [depicting] the Grand Canyon in a series of magnificent panoramas" (Reese & Miles. `Depicting America.' ) The work includes illustrations by arguably the two greatest American topographical artists to record this era of westward expansion: William Holmes and Thomas Moran.
The atlas includes eight beautifully executed maps of the region on twelve sheets, as well as the ten sheets of views. The views include a number of images that are designed to form larger continuous panoramas. The greatest of these is Holmes' view from Point Sublime in the Kaibab; the three chromolithographed sheets (numbered XVI-XVII), if joined, would form a single panoramic view with an image area measuring approximately 17 x 90 inches. It is interesting to note that the first of these sheets includes what may be a self-portrait and portrait respectively of Holmes and Dutton: two figures are visible at the edge of the canyon, one is seated and clearly sketching (Holmes) whilst the second figure bends down to examine his companion's work (Dutton). W.H. Holmes, whom William Goetzmann calls "the greatest artist-topographer and man of many talents that the West ever produced...his artistic technique was like no other's. He could sketch panoramas of twisted mountain ranges, sloping monoclines, escarpments, plateaus, canyons, fault blocks, and grassy meadows that accurately depicted hundreds of miles of terrain. They were better than maps and better than photographs because he could get details of stratigraphy that light and shadow obscured from the camera...his illustrations for Dutton's Tertiary History of the Grand Canon District are masterpieces of realism and draftsmanship as well as feats of imaginative observation." The team assembled to carry out this geological survey of the Grand Canyon included some outstanding talents: C.E.Dutton, the scientist; Jack Hilliers, the photographer and of course Holmes and Moran as artist-topographers. The intention of the survey was strictly scientific, but as Dutton writes in his preface, "I have in many places departed from the severe ascetic style which has become conventional in scientific monographs." This is also true of Moran and Holmes: both were clearly inspired by their subjects. The overall result is of a quality that would not be possible today. As Wallace Stegner wrote in his introduction to the 1977 reprint "Later specialization has eliminated from scientific publications most of the elements that make The Tertiary History so charming. No report written as this one is written would now be published by any government bureau. No illustrators like Moran and Holmes would be permitted to illustrate it... A great book... The Tertiary History has kept its value precisely because it does not specialize."
Francis P. Farquhar The Books of the Colorado River & the Grand Canyon (Los Angeles: 1953) 73; Goetzmann Exploration and Empire pp. 512-513; W.B. Reese & G.A. Miles Creating America (New Haven: 1992) 40.