MIALHE, Pierre Toussaint Frederic (1810-1881) - TORRE, Jose de la - MAY, Bernardo. Plano Pintoresco De La Habana con los numeros de las casas [with] Mapa Historica Pintoresco Moderno de la Isle De Cuba. Berlin: B. May y CA, 1853.
2 fine folding tinted lithographed maps (17 6/8 x 22 inches; 18 x 23 inches) each laid down on linen and tipped into original publisher's ochre cloth wallet, gilt and blind (back strip a little fade and chipped at the foot of the spine, corners bumped).
Provenance: from the important cartographical library of Warren Heckrotte, his sale, Rare Cartography, Exploration and Voyages, Part III, March 10th, 2016, lot 166
Plano Pintoresco De La Habana con los numeros de las casas B. May y CA. 1853, is a fine and detailed map of Havana, showing the fortified city wall, the streets and lot numbers within and without. The map is surrounded by a series of vignettes of local landmarks, including along the top margin a fine view of Isabel II passing the fountain Fuente de la India, and along the bottom margin a sprawling panorama of Havana from the harbour.
Mapa Historica Pintoresco Moderno de la Isle De Cuba, is a fine map of the entire island of Cuba with a table of distances lower left, and surrounded by a series of vignettes of local views and historical events.
This scarce pair of maps of Cuba and Havana, surrounded by views and historic scenes of the island, were originally published in Pierre Toussaint Frederic Miahle's (1810-1881) Viaje pintoresco al rededor de la Isla de Cuba, ca 1848, which was subsequently pirated by Bernardo May as Album Pintoresco de la Isla de Cuba in the 1850. In 1853 both Mialhe had unsuccessfully sued May for breach of copyright and demanded "the sequestration of the May-plagiarized albums, notification to the press to stop advertisements of said views, and 20,000 pesos as damages". May denied plagiarism on the grounds that "... after all, ladies in carriages, street sellers, churches, monuments, and landscapes were all there in full view to any artist who cared to paint them". The maps of Cuba and Havana were also copied from an 1847 map by Jose M. de la Torre. Following the failed lawsuit May reissued his volume in 1855.
These maps and views evoke the island of Cuba as it flourished in the mid-19th century: a vibrant tropical haven with a splendid capital that served as a center of trade between Europe and the Americas. One of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in the western hemisphere, Havana and all of Cuba had become something of a destination for travelers as well as merchants when these views were made. Scenes show Cuba's ports teeming with the clipper ships and commercial vessels, and the development of one of the oldest New World cities.
In 1607, just over a century after Columbus made landfall in Cuba in 1492, Havana became the capital of the island and the front door to the vast Spanish colonial empire. The city was physically untouched by the wars of independence in the latter half of the 18th century, and thus remains the finest surviving Spanish complex in the Americas. Though the face of Cuba has changed considerably, its distinctive vibrancy is depicted vividly in these stunning 19th-century views, which illustrate not only on the island's ports and harbors, but colorful scenes of everyday life and customs. Sabin 17748; Palau 5421; 167989 (note); Cueto, Mialhe's Colonial Cuba, pp.1-7, 73-77.