Casa Catherwood At The Dawn Of LithographyWednesday, July 25, 2007
On Monday I satisfied my curiousity and went to Casa Catherwood. They have on display 25 original lithographs published by Catherwood in England. Originally he did them to illustrate his collaboration with American writer/diplomat John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan which was printed after their trip in 1842.
It was a special treat as I have seen reproductions (many very poor) in books for years but never an original from the limited edition of 300. To see these lithographs in full colour without the humanity of thousands that is the reality of 2007 is thrilling as is to see the ruins before their improved restoration.
The original jungle has been removed and one is mercy to the implacable Yucatan sun over one's head.
Not as well known as Stephens's and Catherwood's original Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan is their second effort, Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. In the first book both travelers have to leave Uxmal suddenly as Catherwood comes down with a terrible fever. In Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, there are new Catherwood lithographs but there is also a detailed history of the conquest of Yucatan by the Spaniards and interesting account on how almost Texas and Yucatan became a country on its own. There is also a one year record (September 1842 to August 1843) of the temperatures in Merida in the morning, noon and the evening. The temperatures, similar to the ones we are experiencing now, do not reflect the extremely high relative humidity.
When possible, Rebecca wants to be in our hotel pool! Curiously only now did I find out that Catherwood used the camera obscura to help him get his sketches right. And both Stephens and Catherwood started a short lived (they experienced a brief beginner's luck) venture of taking portraits of beautiful meridanas using the complicated method of the Daguerreotype.