Westward expansion in the United States was deeply intertwined with the technological revolutions of the nineteenth century, from telegraphy to railroads. Among the most important of these, if often forgotten, was the lithograph. Before photography became a dominant medium, lithography—and later, chromolithography—enabled inexpensive reproduction of color illustrations, transforming journalism and marketing and nurturing, for the first time, a global visual culture. One of the great subjects of the lithography boom was an emerging Euro-American colony in the Americas: Texas.
The most complete collection of its kind—and quite possibly the most complete visual record of nineteenth-century Texas, period—Texas Lithographs is a gateway to the history of the Lone Star State in its most formative period. Ron Tyler assembles works from 1818 to 1900, many created by outsiders and newcomers promoting investment and settlement in Texas. Whether they depict the early French colony of Champ d'Asile, the Republic of Texas, and the war with Mexico; or urban growth, frontier exploration, and the key figures of a nascent Euro-American empire; the images collected here envision an Eden of opportunity—a fairy-tale dream that remains foundational to Texans' sense of self and to the world's sense of Texas.
This beautifully produced book is an instant classic of Texana, and a must-have for print collectors. The astonishing images gathered here—ranging from documentary maps and portraits to advertisements and book illustrations—let us see how the artists and printers who mastered the new technology of lithography depicted Texas for Texans and promoted the region to the world. With deep research and lucid prose, Ron Tyler shows us how these nineteenth-century printmakers navigated the challenges of their medium, the demands of the market, and their own creative ambitions to picture Texas as it was or, sometimes as they hoped it could be.~Martha A. Sandweiss, Princeton University, author of Print the Legend: Photography and the American West
An absolutely wonderful book. The prose is crisp, direct, and a delight to read—all the way down to the footnotes. Beyond contextualizing the world of Texas-related lithographs, Tyler provides a unique vantage for viewing that most iconic of Texas centuries. I thought I knew nineteenth-century Texas well, but I found myself learning something new and fascinating in every chapter because I had not encountered the art of the era in this way.~Andrew J. Torget, University of North Texas, author of Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800–1850
Primed by a distinguished career dedicated to the history and imagery of the American West, Ron Tyler expertly recasts the state’s nineteenth-century history through the visual power and commercial development of lithography. From city views and ship portraits to Mardi Gras invitations and caricatures, these images tell compelling stories that chronicled, fantasized, and drove the dynamic history of Texas under five of its flags. This book will enlighten and delight anyone interested in the history of Texas or print culture.~Carol Clark, Amherst College, author of Charles Deas and 1840s America
Texas Lithographs is a gorgeous testament to Ron Tyler’s long and deep fascination with the subject. The images—whether of people, cities, wildlife, or cartoons—are beautifully reproduced, and, enhanced by Tyler’s thematic chapters, tell the story of nineteenth-century Texas in a striking new way. This is a book to savor.~Andrew R. Graybill, Southern Methodist University, author of Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875–1910
- Introduction: “We Can Read the Pictures”
- 1. “Really a Kind of Paradise”: Hispanic and Mexican Texas
- 2. “A More Perfect Fac-simile of Things”: The Republic of Texas
- 3. “Illustrations of a Cheap Character”: Annexation and War with Mexico
- 4. “A Perfect Terra Incognita”: Surveys of Texas
- 5. “Pretty Pictures . . . ‘Candy’ for the Immigrants”: Illustrating the State
- 6. “The Dark Corner of the Confederacy”: Civil War and Reconstruction in Texas
- 7. “The Enterprise Was Not Properly Appreciated”: The Growth of Lithography in Texas
- 8. “The ‘Image Breakers’”: Mending the Reputation
- 9. “The truth is Texas is what her railroads have made her”
- Epilogue: “Mistaken . . . for Lithograph Work”
The publication of Texas Lithographs was made possible by the support of the Charles N. Prothro Texana Endowment.