Item #2233 Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague. William Oakes.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.
Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.

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Scenery of the White Mountains: With sixteen plates, from the drawings of Isaac Sprague.

Boston: Wm. Crosby and H. P. Nichols, No. 111 Washington Street, 1848. Folio, original black cloth covers, renewed matching spine. [iv], [1]-4 pp., [15] ff. with text on one side only, 16 lithographic plates. CONDITION: Very good, some discoloration to covers, vertical crease in two front endpapers and a faint vertical crease in the title page, occasional light foxing and minor stains to preliminaries and tissue guards, plates and text generally quite clean, one tissue guard with a couple of small stains with smaller corresponding stains in the margins of the plate opposite the guard, overall quite clean and attractive.

First edition of this fine volume of plates depicting scenes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire by noted artist Isaac Sprague. As Oakes explains in the preface, he conceived of this work while preparing a flora of the White Mountains, to which he wanted to add an illustrated guide, but realized that the octavo format was ill-suited to the representation of the scenery, and thus turned to this separate folio format. Depicted here in a series of marvelously subtle lithographs by B. W. Thayer & Co. of Boston are “The White Mountains, from the Giant’s Grave, near the Mount Washington House”; “Mount Crawford”; “The Notch of the White Mountains”; “The Lower Cascade at the Notch”; “The Gate of the Notch”; “The Falls of the Amonoosuck”; “The Granite Cliffs of the Falls”; “The Franconia Notch”; “The Profile Mountain”; “The Profile Rock”; “The Basin”; “The Flume”; “Nancy’s Bridge”; “Mount Crawford”; “The Notch”; “The White Mountains, from Bethlehem”; “Mount Washington, from Mount Pleasant”; “Diagram of the Whole Range of the White Mountains”; and “Mount Washington, over Tuckerman’s Ravine.” All of the plates, except the sixteenth and one of the views on the fourteenth, are based on drawings by Sprague. The others are from paintings by Cincinnati artist Godfrey N. Frankenstein (1820-1873) commissioned for this work.

Born in Hingham, Mass., Isaac Sprague (1811–1895) apprenticed with his uncle as a carriage painter, and taught himself to paint birds, plants, and landscapes. Sprague was sufficiently well-regarded as a bird painter that in 1840 John James Audubon visited his home in Hingham. Although Sprague was away, Audubon had the opportunity to examine some of Sprague’s watercolors of birds, adding comments in the margins. At Audubon’s invitation, Sprague joined his 1843 expedition up the Missouri River, producing numerous sketches, some of which were incorporated into the plates for Audubon’s magnum opus, The Birds of America. Sprague contributed illustrations to numerous scientific publications of the day, including those of botanist Asa Gray, as well as such government publications as Charles Wilkes' United States Exploring Expedition During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 (1845–1876); and the U.S. War Department's Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad Route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean (1855–1860).

American botanist William Oakes (1799–1848) attended Harvard from 1816 to 1820, studying natural history under William Peck. He subsequently studied law and practiced for several years in Ipswich, Mass., then gave up his practice to pursue his interest in natural history full-time. Oakes observed and collected plants in Essex County and elsewhere Massachusetts, Vermont, and the White Mountains. He often explored the latter in the company of his friend Dr. Charles Pickering, becoming the unrivaled expert on the flora of the region. In 1842 he was asked to contribute a description of White Mountains flora to a geological survey report, a project to which he devoted much of the rest of his life. Tragically, Oakes died on July 31, 1848, when he fell off a ferry between Boston and East Boston and drowned.

REFERENCES: Bent, A Bibliography of the White Mountains, p. 1; Global Plants: Oakes, William (1799-1848) in jstor; Sprague at huntbotaincal.org; William Oakes (1799-1848) Papers in the Library of the Gray Herbarium at Harvard.

Item #2233

Price: $950.00

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