CATHERWOOD, Frederick (1799-1854)
Portion of a Building; Las Monjas, Uxmal
 London: F. Catherwood, 1844. Hand coloured tinted lithograph, after Catherwood, trimmed to the image as issued. Image size: 10 7/8 x 15 inches. Removed from the original card mount.
A fine image from the extraordinarily rare hand-coloured issue of this highly important work: "In the whole range of literature on the Maya there has never appeared a more magnificent work" (Von Hagen).
Until the publication of the work of Alfred Maudsley at the turn of the century, Catherwood's Views was the greatest record of Mayan iconography and a primary visual record of the rediscovery of Mayan civilization. Views was produced in London, although issued with both London and New York title pages. Catherwood recruited some of the most distinguished lithographers in London to translate his originals onto stone: Andrew Picken, Henry Warren, William Parrott, John C. Bourne, Thomas Shotter Boys, and George Belton Moore.
Frederick Catherwood was a British architect and artist with a strong interest in archaeology. These combined talents led him to accompany the American traveller and explorer, John Lloyd Stephens, on two trips to the Mayan region of southern Mexico in 1839 and 1841. These explorations resulted in Stephens' two famous works, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan and Incidents of Travel in Yucatan . These immensely popular works, foundation stones in Mayan studies, were both illustrated by Catherwood and inspired him to undertake the larger portfolio. The work of Stephens and Catherwood received great praise. Of Catherwood, Huxley writes: "Catherwood belongs to a species, the artist-archaeologist, which is all but extinct. Piranesi was the most celebrated specimen and Catherwood his not unworthy successor."
Three hundred copies of the work were produced. Most copies are the standard issue, containing tinted lithographed plates. A much more limited number were issued in the present deluxe format: with the plates expertly hand-coloured, cut to the edge of the image and mounted on card stock in imitation of the original watercolours (this example since removed from the original card). Very few such deluxe copies have appeared on the market in the last quarter century, with the most recent portfolio selling for $120,000 (Christie's New York, 5 December 2006).
Las Monjas (the nunnery) at Uxmal was named by the Spanish, who were reminded by the layout and care to detail of Spanish cloisters. It may have been a Mayan place of worship, possibly a cemetery. It is comprised of a quadrangle, perfectly proportioned, and embellished with sculpted friezes rich in Mayan religious imagery. Uxmal, an ancient Mayan city, in present-day Yucatan, Mexico is in the town of Santa Elena.
Groce & Wallace, p.115; Hill  263; Palau 50290; Sabin 11520; Tooley (1954) 133; Von Hagen, Search for the Maya , pp. 320-24. Not in Abbey.