STEWART, William Drummond (ca 1795-1871), Sir. - WEBB, James Watson (1802-1884). Altowan; or, Incidents of Life and Adventure in the Rocky Mountains. By An Amateur Traveler. Edited by J. Watson Webb. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846.
2 volumes. 8vo., (7 2/8 x 4 4/8 inches). (Some intermittent pale spotting.) EXCEPTIONALLY FINE publisher's presentation binding of black morocco, covers with large gilt panel incorporating leaf and floral tools, spine gilt-lettered and -decorated, edges gilt (a few minor spots of rubbing at extremities, generally very fine); preserved in modern black quarter morocco slipcase and chemises.
Provenance: Presentation inscription to W.S. Stell [William Shorter Stell (1800-1863)] from J. Watson Webb on the front free endpaper of volume one: "For W.S. Stell from his friend Watson Webb", and on the recto of the first blank in volume II; with the library label of Amos Tuck French, Tuxedo Park on the front free endpaper of volume one and the front paste-down of volume II; above that of the Jay T. Snider Collection of Historical Americana, his sale Christie's 21st June, 2005, lot 241
First edition and a SUPERB PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY THE EDITOR, J. WATSON WEBB IN EACH VOLUME: "To W.S. Stell from his friend Watson Webb."
Based on travels of Captain William Drummond Stewart, a Scottish nobleman who would inherit the title of seventh baronet of Murthly Castle in 1838, who took sporting trips to the U.S. in 1832, 1838 and 1842, ACCOMPANIED BY THE CELEBRATED ARTIST ALFRED JACOB MILLER (1810-1874). Miller was the first Anglo-American painter to travel as far west as the Rocky Mountains, and the only one to paint a comprehensive view of the Rocky Mountain fur trade.
Stewart came to America on pay from the British Army in 1832 and traveled west to the Rockies where he remained for several years. While in New Orleans during the winter of 1836-1837 he met Alfred Jacob Miller, and invited him to accompany him on his next journey to record scenes of his adventures. "Miller departed from St. Louis with Stewart's party in May 1837. Their destination was the fur trade rendezvous, a meeting held each year between eastern traders, Indians, and Rocky Mountain trappers. The 1837 rendezvous took place at Horse Creek, a tributary of the Green River, near the present-day border of Colorado and Wyoming. The party went from St. Louis to Westport and then traveled northwest along the Kansas River to the Platte, passing such landmarks as Scott's Bluff and Chimney Rock on their way to Fort Laramie. From Fort Laramie they continued west through the South Pass and north to the rendezvous. After the rendezvous, Stewart and his band headed into the Wind River Mountains to the source of the Green River. There they spent their time hunting before returning to St. Louis in the fall of 1837.
"Miller returned to New Orleans shortly thereafter and began work on eighty-seven wash and watercolor drawings and several oil paintings for Stewart that were based on sketches he made in the field... Miller is best known for his western subjects, which include sketches produced in the field along with finished oil-on-canvas and watercolor paintings made for Stewart. Although Miller's early works are undated, it is likely he completed as many as 150 sketches in the field. Most of these are executed in watercolor or wash over pencil with gouache on a variety of papers and are small in size. In the years following his return from Scotland, Miller continued to produce versions of these initial sketches in oil and watercolor. More than half of Miller's paintings show Shoshone, Sioux, and Nez Percé engaged in a variety of activities: caring for children, preparing meat, sewing, chasing horses, or hunting. Miller also painted scenes of the caravan en route and of trappers at the rendezvous, along with mountain landscapes. Many of the earlier works show Stewart hunting or visiting Shoshone camps. In later watercolor copies, Miller replaced Stewart's figure with others." (ANB). Miller's sketches, now in the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, are among the best of the West.
From 1827 James Watson Webb was the Editor and Publisher with his father-in-law, Alexander L. Stewart, of the New York Morning Courier, designed for the merchant and businessman, with economic information filling most of the space. Webb helped organize the Whig party in New York in 1834, and claimed to have given it its name. Webb's "tempestuous nature made him a well-known and well-hated figure in New York City. He caned rival editors, caused a duel in 1838 in which one congressman killed another, and fought a duel himself, in 1842, with Congressman Thomas A. Marshall of Kentucky (Marshall was not killed). He was sued for libel on several occasions, the most celebrated being a series of suits brought by James Fenimore Cooper for abusive personal attacks in reviews in Webb's paper. After three trials, Webb was acquitted in November 1843" (DNB). Competition from rival New York newspapers caused Webb to mortgage the paper to the publishing Harper brothers, continuing as a salaried employee, and eventually in 1861 he sold the paper to the New York World.
Subsequently Webb spent some time as Minister for Brazil, although the appointment ended in scandal in 1869.
William Shorter Stell, was a Philadelphia Merchant Banker based in Manchester, England, at Crafts and Stell. His adopted daughter Julia grew up in Manchester and Paris, and counted among her family friends George Peabody, the most influential American philanthropist of the nineteenth century. She married Edward Tuck (1842 – 1938), American banker and philanthropist, who donated large sums to Dartmouth to endow the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance, in memory of his father. He also donated funds to the New Hampshire Historical Society to build its Tuck Library. From 1890, Edward and Julia lived in France, where Edward was a diplomat, and where they continued their philanthropy, donating an art collection valued at $5 million, and funds for hospitals and other institutions. Amos Tuck French is their nephew. Howes S-991; Sabin 91392; Wagner-Camp-Becker 125