Art and Exploration in the American West and Mexico

Diane Dillon and Hana Layson

What are the connections between exploring new territories and making visual representations of those territories? How do artists relate to the territory’s indigenous people? In what ways do mapmakers and artists promote, protect, or displace the cultures and landscapes they portray?

Introduction

In 1803 the United States bought the territory of Louisiana from France and began a century-long process of western exploration and conquest that would define the nation’s borders and have lasting consequences for its neighbors: American Indians, Mexicans, and Canadians. With the Louisiana Purchase, the United States doubled in size, acquiring an 800,000 square mile region that spanned from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from New Orleans to Canada. At the time, Europeans and Americans knew little about the region, which was home to thousands of American Indians as well as a small number of European traders. The U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, appointed Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead an expedition to map the territory and discover who lived there and what natural resources the region had to offer. Their efforts paved the way for the nation’s westward expansion. By mid-century, the United States would go to war with Mexico to acquire the region that would become Texas, California, and the Southwest. It would claim the Oregon Territory in the Northwest from Britain in 1846.

Maps created by the first explorers helped establish national claims to new territories. Later, westward expansion led to the development of distinctively American forms of visual art.

Visual representations, such as maps, drawings, and paintings, played an important role in the process of westward expansion. Maps created by the first explorers helped establish national claims to new territories by informing the government of routes and natural formations as well as the locations of Indian tribes. Maps also provided essential information to any settlers who hoped to establish themselves in the new territory. Furthermore, westward expansion facilitated the development of distinctively American forms of visual art. As artists followed explorers westward, they created stunning drawings and paintings of the vast wilderness landscapes and the indigenous people whom they encountered—landscapes and people who would be fundamentally altered by the very forces that brought the artists to them. The encounter with the West transformed nineteenth-century American art and enabled the development of new forms of landscape painting and portraiture. At the same time, artists’ representations informed public perceptions of the people and natural environment of the West and served to draw visitors to a region that, by the end of the century, was no longer a wild frontier—it had become, instead, a tourist attraction.

The following collection of documents offers four case studies of the exploration and visual art, broadly defined, of nineteenth-century America and Mexico, from the first expeditions up the Missouri River, to the development of everyday life along the Mississippi, to the discovery of Yellowstone and the establishment of the national park, to representations of the people and natural resources of Mexico.

Please consider the following questions as you review the documents

  • What are the connections between art and exploration, or between exploring new territories and making visual representations of the landscape and people of those territories?

  • What role do visual representations play in the acquisition of territory? How do mapmakers and artists help to secure the nation’s claim to new land?

  • What are artists’ relationships to the land’s existing inhabitants? In what ways do artists commemorate, preserve, protect, or displace the cultures and landscapes they portray?

  • How are visual and textual representations related to each other? Do maps, drawings, and paintings support or contradict written accounts of the same regions and peoples?

Exploring the Missouri River

President Thomas Jefferson began planning an American expedition to find the source of the Missouri River in 1802. His goals were to open a route to the Pacific, to expand American participation in the fur trade, and to locate farmland. The purchase of the Louisiana Territory the following year made the project a priority. The U.S. Army was responsible for maintaining order in the frontier areas. So Jefferson appointed two Army captains, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to lead a 33-person expedition, which he named the Corps of Discovery. They departed from St. Louis in May 1804, travelled all the way to the Oregon coast, and returned in August 1806, a journey of over 8,000 miles. The expedition created the first comprehensive maps of the area. Earlier maps are almost completely blank between the Mississippi and the West Coast, showing just a small part of the Missouri River and a spare indication of the Rockies. Everything west of Fort Mandan was unknown to the explorers.

In addition to the two captains and the 26 Army recruits, the expedition officially included five other people who made the journey from Fort Mandan to the Pacific and back: York, an African American man who was Clark’s slave; a Mandan Indian man; two French Canadian fur traders and the Shoshone wife, Sacagawea, of one of them. (Sacagawea brought with her an infant son, nicknamed Pomp.) The French Canadian and Indian members were meant to act as interpreters and to aid in negotiations with tribes.

Questions to Consider

  1. In his letter to Jefferson, what information does Lewis provide about the members of the expedition and their roles?

  2. As far as you can tell from this letter, why does Lewis maintain contact with the War Department, which operated and maintained the army? What does the department’s involvement tell us about the purpose and management of the expedition?

  3. What do you learn about the management and logistics of the expedition from this letter? What are Lewis’ and Jefferson’s concerns?

  4. What information does the map include? How does it portray the region?

“A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track”

Meriwether Lewis. From Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean: Performed by Order of the Government of the United States, in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806, 1814.

Image of A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track

Lewis and Clark’s route from St. Louis to the Oregon coast and back, from 1804 to 1806, a journey of over 8,000 miles.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track
Short Title A Map of Lewis and Clark's Route, 1814
Book Title Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean: Performed by Order of the Government of the United States, in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806
Place of Publication London
Publisher Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown
Creator Meriwether Lewis
Publication Date 1814
Call Number folio Graff 2480
Location Special Collections 4th floor

“Extract of a Letter to Thomas Jefferson”

Meriwether Lewis. From Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean: Performed by Order of the Government of the United States, in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806, 1814.

Image of Extract of a Letter to Thomas Jefferson

Lewis wrote this letter to President Jefferson midway through his famous journey from St. Louis to the Oregon Coast and back. The letter enumerates the items that Lewis was sending to Jefferson and identifies the members of the expedition party.

Image of Extract of a Letter to Thomas Jefferson
Image of Extract of a Letter to Thomas Jefferson
Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Extract of a Letter to Thomas Jefferson
Short Title Letter to T. Jefferson from M. Lewis, 1814
Book Title Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean: Performed by Order of the Government of the United States, in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806
Place of Publication London
Publisher Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown
Creator Meriwether Lewis
Publication Date 1814
Pages pp. x-xii
Call Number folio Graff 2480
Location Special Collections 4th floor

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Portraying American Indians of the West

Lewis and Clark encountered almost 50 Indian tribes on their journey and observed a wide range of cultures and customs, from the agrarian Mandan who raised corn and lived in earth lodges to the nomadic Sioux who hunted buffalo and slept in tepees. Three decades later, the artist George Catlin accompanied Clark on a diplomatic mission up the Mississippi River into Indian Territory. From there, Catlin traveled up the Missouri, on a mission to record the customs of every tribe he encountered. His painting, Ball-Play Dance, portrays Choctaw Indians near present-day Oklahoma. They engage in dancing and singing to solicit the aid of the Great Spirit before a game of lacrosse, itself an important and elaborate ceremony that could determine individuals’ status within the tribe. Swiss painter, Karl Bodmer ventured up the Missouri in 1834 in the company of the German Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied. Bodmer created vivid paintings of the landscape and people he observed. His painting of the bison hunt portrays an essential activity of the Plains tribes in the nineteenth century. The bison’s body provided not only food, but also material for tents, clothing, and tools. Like Catlin, Bodmer also produced numerous portraits of individuals from the tribes he encountered. Both artists sought to create detailed, accurate representations of their subjects for a white American and European audience.

Questions to Consider

  1. What was Catlin’s motive in traveling up the Missouri and painting and drawing the American Indians that he met? What does he mean when he writes that Western Indians show “Man, in the simplicity and loftiness of his Nature”? In your opinion, does Catlin idealize American Indians or offer an appropriate contrast between Native and European-American cultures? How do you assess Catlin’s project of preserving what he sees as dying and disappearing cultures?

  2. Describe the activities in the ball-play dance that Catlin portrays. How are the figures arranged? How are they positioned in relation to the landscape? What does the artist’s perspective suggest about relationships between people and the natural environment?

  3. How does Bodmer convey the experience of the bison hunt? What activities does the hunt entail? What emotions or ideas do the figures express?

  4. Examine Bodmer’s portraits of the women from the Snake and Cree tribes and of Wahk-ta-Ge-Li, the Sioux warrior. Which adjectives would you use to describe these figures? How does Bodmer portray Native Americans for his imagined white American and European audience? What do the portraits convey about differences between tribes and between women’s and men’s roles?

Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America

George Catlin. 1842.

Image of Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America

The artist George Catlin dedicated himself to recording the customs of every American Indian tribe that he encountered in the West. Here, he explains why he made this commitment.

Image of Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America
Image of Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America
Image of Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America
Image of Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America
Metadata Details
Item Type Book
Title Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written During Eight Years' Travel Amongst the Wildest Tribes of Indians in North America
Short Title Notes on the N.American Indians, 1842
Place of Publication Philadelphia
Publisher W. P. Hazard
Creator George Catlin
Publication Date 1842
Number of Pages Title page, frontispiece, pp. 1-3 and 6-8
Call Number Ayer E77 .C38 1857
Location Special Collections 4th floor

“Ball-Play Dance”

George Catlin. From Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America, 1844.

Image of Ball-Play Dance

In 1834 George Catlin observed Choctaw Indians, near present-day Oklahoma, engage in dancing and singing before a game of lacrosse.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Ball-Play Dance
Short Title Ball-Play Dance, 1844
Book Title Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America
Place of Publication London
Publisher Geo. Catlin, C. and J. Adlard
Creator George Catlin
Publication Date 1844
Pages Plate B22
Call Number oversize Ayer 250.45 .C2 1844
Location Special Collections 4th floor

“Indians Hunting the Bison”

Karl Bodmer. From Karl Bodmer's Pencil, Pen, and Watercolor Drawings Prepared to Illustrate Prince Maximilian of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America, Circa 1836.

Image of Indians Hunting the Bison

Artist Karl Bodmer traveled up the Missouri River in 1834, in the company of a German prince. He observed the buffalo hunt, an essential activity of the Plains tribes in the nineteenth century.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Indians Hunting the Bison
Short Title Indians Hunting the Bison, 1836
Book Title Karl Bodmer's Pencil, Pen, and Watercolor Drawings Prepared to Illustrate Prince Maximilian of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America
Creator Karl Bodmer
Publication Date Circa 1836
Call Number VAULT oversize Ayer Art Bodmer
Location Special Collections 4th floor
Notes Title supplied by the cataloger.

“Woman of the Snake-Tribe, Woman of the Cree-Tribe”

Karl Bodmer. From Karl Bodmer's Pencil, Pen, and Watercolor Drawings Prepared to Illustrate Prince Maximilian of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America, Circa 1836.

Image of Woman of the Snake-Tribe, Woman of the Cree-Tribe

Bodmer calls attention to subtle differences in customs and clothing in this portrait of women from two Western American Indian tribes.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Woman of the Snake-Tribe, Woman of the Cree-Tribe
Short Title Woman of the Snake-Tribe, Cree-Tribe, 1836
Book Title Karl Bodmer's Pencil, Pen, and Watercolor Drawings Prepared to Illustrate Prince Maximilian of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America
Creator Karl Bodmer
Publication Date Circa 1836
Call Number VAULT oversize Ayer Art Bodmer
Location Special Collections 4th floor
Notes Title supplied by the cataloger.

“Wahk-ta-Ge-Li. A Sioux Warrior”

Karl Bodmer. From Karl Bodmer's Pencil, Pen, and Watercolor Drawings Prepared to Illustrate Prince Maximilian of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America, Circa 1836.

Image of Wahk-ta-Ge-Li. A Sioux Warrior

Bodmer’s vivid watercolor of a Sioux warrior he met during a journey west in 1834.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Wahk-ta-Ge-Li. A Sioux Warrior
Short Title Wahk-ta-Ge-Li. A Sioux Warrior, 1836
Book Title Karl Bodmer's Pencil, Pen, and Watercolor Drawings Prepared to Illustrate Prince Maximilian of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America
Creator Karl Bodmer
Publication Date Circa 1836
Call Number VAULT oversize Ayer Art Bodmer
Location Special Collections 4th floor
Notes Title supplied by the cataloger.

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Commerce and Life on the Western Rivers

These paintings by Alfred Thompson Bricher and George Caleb Bingham portray everyday life along the Mississippi and lower Missouri Rivers in the 1850s and ‘60s. Bricher came from New Hampshire, but traveled west in the summer of 1866. In this painting, he portrays a sidewheeler, a wooden hull packet boat with a paddle wheel on each side, which was owned by the Northwestern Union Packet Company, a freight shipping firm. As the Terra Foundation notes in its interpretative text on the painting, “Sidewheelers were distinctive to the Mississippi, the Ohio, and other western waterways. Bricher’s portrait of this particular vessel lends an air of authenticity to his image of a region remote from the traditional landscape painting grounds of the American northeast.”

Bingham grew up in a Missouri River town and was “one of the first major American artists to hail from America’s frontier, and the first to make the West the subject of his art.” This scene portrays life on the Missouri not as it was in 1877, but as it had been two or three decades earlier, when barges and flatboats dominated the river. By the late 1870s, barges had been replaced by steamships and trains had displaced waterways as the primary means of transporting freight.

Both Bricher and Bingham were associated with the mid-nineteenth-century Hudson River School, whose painters portrayed American wilderness landscapes. Both employed a style now known as luminism in which “broad expanses of still water and sky” appear in “a pervasive, glowing light” and brushstrokes are rendered almost invisible.

Questions to Consider

  1. Describe these scenes of everyday life along the rivers. What activities are people engaged in? What does the pace of life seem like?

  2. Discuss the composition of each painting. How are human figures positioned within the landscape? How do Bricher and Bingham use light in these scenes? What is the atmosphere conveyed by each painting?

  3. In what ways might these scenes differ from contemporary representations of East Coast waterways? How do the paintings convey landscapes or experiences specifically associated with the West?

The Sidewheeler "The City of St. Paul" on the Mississippi River, Dubuque, Iowa

Alfred Thompson Bricher. 1872.

Image of The Sidewheeler "The City of St. Paul" on the Mississippi River, Dubuque, Iowa

Bricher created a distinctively Western scene by painting the sidewheeler, a wooden hull packet boat with a paddle wheel on each side, which he observed along the Mississippi River in 1866.

Metadata Details
Item Type Artwork
Title The Sidewheeler "The City of St. Paul" on the Mississippi River, Dubuque, Iowa
Short Title The Sidewheeler "The City of St. Paul" 1872
Creator Alfred Thompson Bricher
Publication Date 1872
Artwork Medium Oil on canvas mounted on board
Artwork Size 20 1/8 x 38 1/8 in. (51.1 x 96.8 cm
Call Number Daniel J. Terra Collection 1992.18
Rights Photography ©Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago
Location Terra Foundation for American Art

The Jolly Flatboatmen

George Caleb Bingham. Circa 1877.

Image of The Jolly Flatboatmen

Bingham evokes a nostalgic scene of flatboat workers on the Missouri River in the mid-nineteenth century. By the late 1870s, when he created the painting, such boats had been replaced by steamships.

Metadata Details
Item Type Artwork
Title The Jolly Flatboatmen
Short Title The Jolly Flatboatmen, 1877
Creator George Caleb Bingham
Publication Date Circa 1877
Artwork Medium Oil on canvas
Artwork Size 26 1/16 x 36 3/8 in. (66.2 x 92.4 cm)
Call Number Daniel J. Terra Collection 1992.15
Rights Photography ©Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago
Location Terra Foundation for American Art

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Promoting Yellowstone

In 1869 Charles W. Cook, David E. Folsom, and William Peterson explored the headwaters of the Yellowstone River in the Montana Territory (now Wyoming). The region had only just begun to attract the attention of officials of the territory and the Northern Pacific Railroad. The following year, Cook published a vivid account of “the awful grandeur and sublimity” of this landscape of canyons, waterfalls, and hot springs, calling it “a scene of transcendent beauty, which has been viewed by but few white men.” As Cook predicted, the region quickly attracted wider notice. In 1871, Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden directed a government survey of the area, accompanied by the artist Thomas Moran, as well as scientists, a topographer, and others. Moran was an English-born, American painter associated with the Hudson River School and its attention to the American wilderness landscape. Hayden’s advocacy along with Moran’s vivid sketches of Yellowstone contributed to the U.S. Congress’ decision to declare the area the first national park in 1871. Officials with the Northern Pacific Railroad financed the construction of a hotel near the park’s entrance, accessible primarily by their rail line, which opened in 1884. The Northern Pacific published Alice’s Adventures in the New Wonderland that same year. The brochure included a long letter written by a fictional English tourist, named after the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s children’s book. On the reverse, the brochure presented a detailed, topographic map of the park by two of the railroad’s civil engineers, Carl J. Hals and Arvid Rydstrom.

Questions to Consider

  1. Examine the two Moran paintings of Yellowstone. How does the landscape appear? How does Moran use chiaroscuro, or the contrast of light and dark within the paintings?

  2. Why does Moran include human figures in the paintings? What are they doing? What is their relationship to the landscape? How do these images compare to the paintings of American Indians and of boaters along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, seen earlier in this collection?

  3. Consider the cover and excerpt of Alice’s Adventures in the New Wonderland. Why do you think the Northern Pacific Railroad chose to promote Yellowstone in this way? Why would their writers create a fictional English heroine, writing an intimate letter to a friend, to portray a region otherwise associated with rugged frontiersmen?

  4. Examine Hals and Rydstrom’s map of the park. What information does it include? Why would it be of use or interest to a tourist?

  5. Consider the relationship between the two sides of the Wonderland brochure. Is the content of each side complementary or at odds with the other?

“Castle Geyser”

Thomas Moran. From The Yellowstone National Park, and the Mountain Regions of Portions of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah, 1876.

Image of Castle Geyser

In 1871 artist Thomas Moran called attention to Yellowstone’s extraordinary natural features through vivid sketches, such as this one of an especially large geyser formation.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Castle Geyser
Short Title Castle Geyser, Yellowstone, 1876
Book Title The Yellowstone National Park, and the Mountain Regions of Portions of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah
Place of Publication Boston
Publisher L. Prang and Company
Creator Thomas Moran
Publication Date 1876
Call Number VAULT oversize Graff 1830
Location Special Collections 4th floor

“Grand Canyon”

Thomas Moran. From The Yellowstone National Park, and the Mountain Regions of Portions of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah, 1876.

Image of Grand Canyon

Artist Thomas Moran participated in a government survey of the Yellowstone River area in 1871. His vivid sketches, such as this one, influenced Congress’s decision to declare the area a national park.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Grand Canyon
Short Title Grand Canyon, 1876
Book Title The Yellowstone National Park, and the Mountain Regions of Portions of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah
Place of Publication Boston
Publisher L. Prang and Company
Creator Thomas Moran
Publication Date 1876
Call Number VAULT oversize Graff 1830
Location Special Collections 4th floor

“Alice's Adventures in the New Wonderland”

Carl J. Hals and Arvid Rydstrom. From Map of the Yellowstone National Park: Compiled from Different Official Explorations and Our Personal Survey, 1882, 1884.

Image of Alice's Adventures in the New Wonderland

The Northern Pacific Railroad published this brochure to promote travel to Yellowstone National Park. It includes a map of the park and, on the reverse side, shown here, a long letter written by a fictional English tourist named Alice.

Image of Alice's Adventures in the New Wonderland

Detail. Cover of Alice’s Adventures in the New Wonderland.

Image of Alice's Adventures in the New Wonderland

Detail. First panel of Alice’s Adventures in the New Wonderland.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Alice's Adventures in the New Wonderland
Publication Title Map of the Yellowstone National Park: Compiled from Different Official Explorations and Our Personal Survey, 1882
Short Title Alice's Adventures in New Wonderland, 1884
Book Title Map of the Yellowstone National Park: Compiled from Different Official Explorations and Our Personal Survey, 1882
Place of Publication Chicago
Publisher Poole Bros.
Creator Carl J. Hals and Arvid Rydstrom
Publication Date 1884
Call Number Map4F G4262.Y4 1884 H3 (PrCt)
Location Special Collections 4th floor

Map of the Yellowstone National Park: Compiled from Different Official Explorations and Our Personal Survey, 1882

Carl J. Hals and Arvid Rydstrom. 1884.

Image of Map of the Yellowstone National Park: Compiled from Different Official Explorations and Our Personal Survey, 1882

The Northern Pacific Railroad published this map to promote travel to Yellowstone National Park. The reverse side includes a description of the park, entitled Alice’s Adventures in the New Wonderland.

Metadata Details
Item Type Map
Title Map of the Yellowstone National Park: Compiled from Different Official Explorations and Our Personal Survey, 1882
Short Title Map: Yellowstone National Park, 1884
Place of Publication Chicago
Publisher Poole Bros.
Creator Carl J. Hals and Arvid Rydstrom
Publication Date 1884
Call Number Map4F G4262.Y4 1884 H3 (PrCt)
Location Special Collections 4th floor

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Representing Mexico

Mexican geographer and cartographer Antonio García Cubas dedicated his life to representing the distinctive land and cultures of nineteenth-century Mexico. In 1857, he produced the first map of the nation following its War of Independence from Spain (1810–1821). In subsequent decades, he produced atlases, portraits, and texts promoting ideas of Mexican national character and identity. In The Republic of Mexico in 1876, García Cubas includes an ethnographic account of the Mexican people, identifying three primary groups: whites, or Spanish descendants; mestizos, or people of mixed European and American Indian ancestry; and full Indians. While the first two groups thrive, he writes, the last is dying out. García Cubas’ Atlas pintoresco é historico de los estados unidos mexicanos, or “Picturesque and Historical Atlas of the United Mexican States,” appeared the following decade. The atlas includes large maps illustrating Mexico’s archeological sites and colonial history as well as its topography, political structure, schools, ethnography, rivers, minerals, and agriculture. Bordering each map are vividly colored scenes relating to the map’s theme. While García Cubas’ work does not concern exploration in the sense of discovering new lands, it addresses the idea of exploration in a metaphorical sense. He investigates—and helps to cement—the identity of a newly formed nation through visual and textual representations of the natural and human landscape.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does García Cubas characterize each of the three groups—whites, mestizos, and Indians (in this excerpt, specifically, the Tarasca nation)—that he identifies as making up Mexican society? How does he visually portray each group?

  2. Examine the Carta agricola. How does the map convey Mexico’s agricultural production? How do Mexico’s landscape and people appear in the surrounding images?

  3. How do the images and text work to define Mexican national identity?

The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

Antonio García Cubas. 1876.

Image of The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

Writer and geographer Garcia Cubas identified three primary groups in his brilliantly illustrated, ethnographic account of the Mexican people. Here, he describes the descendants of the Spanish.

Image of The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

Plate 1 [Spanish descendants]

Image of The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

On mestizos.

Image of The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

Plate 2 [Mestizos]

Image of The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

On the indigenous Tarasca nation.

Image of The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants

Plate 4 [Tarasca nation]

Metadata Details
Item Type Book
Title The Republic of Mexico in 1876: A Political and Ethnographical Division of the Population, Character, Habits, Costumes and Vocations of Its Inhabitants
Short Title The Republic of Mexico in 1876
Place of Publication Mexico
Publisher "La Enseñanza" Print. Office
Creator Antonio García Cubas
Publication Date 1876
Number of Pages pp. 16, 20, 90, and plates
Call Number H 295 .321
Location General Collections 2nd floor

“Carta agricola [Agricultural Map]”

Antonio García Cubas. From Atlas pintoresco é historico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1885.

Image of Carta agricola [Agricultural Map]

Agricultural Map. Plate VIII in the Picturesque and Historical Atlas of the United Mexican States. The atlas portrays Mexico’s natural resources in addition to political and cultural institutions.

Image of Carta agricola [Agricultural Map]

Detail of La Siembra (sowing) and La Cosecha (harvesting).

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Carta agricola [Agricultural Map]
Short Title Agricultural Map, 1885
Book Title Atlas pintoresco é historico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Place of Publication Mexico
Publisher Debray sucesores
Creator Antonio García Cubas
Publication Date 1885
Language Spanish
Call Number Ayer 655.59 .G2 1885 Atlas
Location Special Collections 4th floor

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Selected Sources

Magali M. Carrera. Traveling from New Spain to Mexico: Mapping Practices of Nineteenth-Century Mexico. 2011.

Michael P. Conzen and Diane Dillon. Mapping Manifest Destiny: Chicago and the American West. 2007.

Bernard DeVoto, ed. The Journals of Lewis and Clark. 1953.

PBS. Lewis and Clark. www.pbs.org/lewisandclark.

Smithsonian American Art Museum. americanart.si.edu/collections.

Terra Foundation for American Art. www.terraamericanart.org.

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Digital collection produced in conjunction with Diane Dillon’s Teachers as Scholars Seminar, “Art and Exploration in 19th and Early 20th Century American Culture,” on April 16 and 17, 2012.

This collection was last updated