London: Printed by J. and C. Adlard, 1825. 12pp., plus large folding plate. Contemporary plain paper wrappers, sewn, with manuscript title on front wrapper reading, "View of Mexico." Front wrapper partially separated, moderate edge wear and soiling to wrappers. Light foxing to text, previous ownership inscription dated in the year of publication on title page. Untrimmed. Very good plus. Item #3098
The very rare first edition of Robert Burford's interpretation of William Bullock's "View of the City and Valley of Mexico, from Tacubaya in 1822," which Burford adapted as a panoramic exhibited at Leicester Square in London in 1825. Burford's original painting of Mexico City is now lost, but the folding plate, measuring 12.5 x 19 inches, recreates the painting in two sections. The folding plate, titled, "Explanation of a View of the City of Mexico, exhibiting in the Panorama, Leicester Square," memorializes the city from Calles Platoros to the Regina Coeli Convent Church. The scene is keyed to seventy-one locations around the city, printed below the illustration. Burford created his painting of Mexico City from drawings by William Bullock, published as the frontispiece in Bullock's Six Months Residence and Travel in Mexico, also published in 1825.
Bullock was a museum owner in London, and a notable showman, lecturer, and traveler. In 1822, he visited Veracruz, Xalapa, Pulque, Puebla, and Cholula before finally arriving in Mexico City, where he spent the remainder of his journey; along the way, he collected artifacts, documents, and illustrations intended for an 1824 exhibition, "Modern Mexico," which he put on at the Egyptian Hall in London. Burford’s large-scale painting of Mexico City, inspired by Bullock's work, was one of the very earliest panoramas to depict a Mexican location.
The text accompanying the plate gives a general history of Mexico City and details thirty-two of the keyed locations in the painting. The previous owner's inscription on the title page reads, "Matthew Heath 10 King's Bench Walk, Temple, 14th Dec 1825." Heath was very likely a barrister who attended the exhibit of Burford's panorama and brought home this work as a memento.
OCLC reports a healthy number of copies of the 1826 edition in institutions, but only two copies of the present first edition, dated 1825 on the title page, at Yale and the Institutio Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. A wonderful artifact of early-19th century, evidence of the artistic interplay between influential artists working to bring the majesty of Mexico City to a larger audience.