1835. Paris & Mulhausen. Engelmann & Cie. Four parts in one volume, folio (520 x 360 mm). 1 ff., 50; 38; 56; 32 ff., and 100 lithographed plates. Contemporary –possibly original- half calf over boards, raised band and gilt tooling to spine, lettered in gilt, inner-hinges strengthened, a little rubbed as usual considering the size and weight. A very fine copy, clean, and overall free of the usual foxing to the plates.
First edition, with the text in German –simultaneously published to the French edition-, a brilliant copy of this masterpiece of Brazilian 19th century scenery and costumes. Rugendas´ plate-book occupies a distinguished position in Brazil´s already rich iconography; it is accurate, comprehensive, and strikingly beautiful. The 100-hundred plates show the aboriginal costumes, city views, architecture, landscapes, and urban scenery; in the latter we can appreciate a fascinating visual record of Brazil´s important slave history, with 20 plates illustrating the subject. The country´s celebrated landscapes are also well represented, with some 30 plates recording cities like and Bahia Rio de Janeiro.
All the plates are after German artist Maurits Rugendas (1802 – 1858), famous for his landscapes and ethnographic subject of the Americas (mostly Brazil, Chile, and Argentina); Rugendas was influenced by earlier artistic works produced after explorations of the American, namely those of Johann Baptist von Spix and Carl von Martius. In the early 1820´s Rugendas travelled to Brazil, soon hired by Baron von Langsdorff in the capacity of illustrator for the scientific expedition to Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, which allowed him a first glance of the country´s scenery, his employment however would soon come to an end, when he is replaced by Adrien Taunay; still, the author remained in the country on his own until 1825, travelling through Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso, and other regions, recording his impression mostly in drawings and watercolors. His skill as draughtsman left us with a wonderful book in two respects, first, because of it´s beauty, which the reader can enjoy and be transported into a day and time which no longer exists, second, the importance as an iconographic record of Brazil´s life in the first quarter of the 19th century, defined as of “genuine documentary value, which are of utmost importance for the study of Brazilian life at the beginning of the 19th century” (Borba de Moraes, at the same time criticizing somewhat the text); Pedro Correa de Lago compares it to Debret “Inferior apenas em termos de fama ao de Debret, o album de Rugendas, de concepcao diversa, e mais rico em vistas e menos atriado pela reconstituicao de cenas urbanas. Mas ambos sao extremamente valiosos na observacao precisa da realidade brasileira” (Pedro Correa do Lago, Brasiliana Itau, pp. 192.).
Sabin 73934. Borba de Moraes, 754. Bosch 377.