October 26, 2012

View of the Department for Colored Children of the House of Refuge

This print depicts the buildings of the Department for Colored Children of the House of Refuge in Philadelphia, including the girls’ dormitories, the girls’ dining and sewing rooms, the supervisors’ rooms and the main entrance, the boys’ dormitories, and the boys’ school rooms. A tall brick wall surrounds the rear and sides of the complex of buildings and two men and a boy are seen talking in the foreground. The lithograph is also used as one of a pair of illustrations printed on textile in 1858, as well as the frontispiece to the Thirtieth Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the House of Refuge, the other being “View of the Department for White Children of the House of Refuge.” Founded in 1828, the House of Refuge was the first institution in Pennsylvania charged with reforming and educating juveniles accused of delinquency and providing an alternative to prison. These buildings, located between Parrish and Brown Streets between 22nd and 24th Streets, opened in 1850.

Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb

This lithograph is an exterior view of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, located at the northwest corner of Broad and Pine Streets in Philadelphia. Designed by Philadelphia architect John Haviland, the building was constructed in 1824–26, soon after the school's founding. The illustration was created by artist Albert Newsam (1809–64) and was used as the frontispiece for the annual report of the board of directors of the institution for the year 1850. Born deaf and mute in Steubenville, Ohio, Newsam showed artistic promise as a young boy. At age 11, he was taken to Philadelphia by a man who posed as a deaf-mute brother and intended to exploit the boy's artistic skills for his own gain. Newsam secured a safe haven at the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, where he received an education. In 1827, he became an apprentice at the engraving firm of Cephas G. Childs and by 1829 was supplying Childs with many of the prints he offered to the public. Most noted for his portraits, Newsam later became the principal artist at the firm of Peter S. Duval.

In Commemoration of the Great Parade of the Philadelphia Fire Department, October 16th, 1865

This tinted print commemorates the great parade of the Philadelphia Fire Department on October 16, 1865, and is dedicated to the Philadelphia firemen and their “visiting brethren.” The text at the bottom lists the fire companies participating in the parade, mainly from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, but some from as far away as Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The print is based on an illustration by Francis H. Schell (1834–1909), an artist, illustrator, and lithographer in Philadelphia, who later worked in New York for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper as a “special artist.” The lithographer was James Queen (circa 1820–1886), a Philadelphia native who was apprenticed to the firm of Duval and Lehman in 1835 and did most of his work for the firm of P.S. Duval.

General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex. Book III: The Origin of the Gods

Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, the manuscript consists of 12 books devoted to different topics. Book III deals with the origin of the gods, in particular Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, and includes appendices on the afterlife and on education. Aztec religion was permeated with stories about the birth, death, and return to life of the gods. This perennial process of regeneration was reflected in ceremonies involving human and other sacrifice and in the architecture of Tenochtitlan. The Templo Mayor (Great Pyramid) was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc and had separate shrines to each of these gods. This dual construction had great significance in Mesoamerican cosmology, symbolizing the two sacred mountains, Tonacatepetl (the Hill of Sustenance), and Coatepec (the Hill of the Snake). The shrine dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of rain, represented the mountain housing maize and other things that Quetzalcoatl stole from the gods to give to mankind. The shrine dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and of the sun, represented the mountain on which the god was born, already an adult and dressed as a warrior, his mother Coatlicue having generated him after she placed a feather ball in her lap. On the mountain the god defeated his sister Coyolxauhqui, the moon goddess, and his 400 brothers who were jealous of his birth. Once dead, they went to form the Milky Way. Among the noteworthy illustrations in Book III is the depiction, on folio 232v, in the appendix on education, of parents taking children to school. The nobles sent their children to the calmecac (row of houses), an extremely strict school reserved for the elite, where they received instructions on how to become “those who command, chiefs and senators and nobles, … those who have military posts.”

General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex. Book IV: The Art of Divination

Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, the manuscript consists of 12 books devoted to different topics. Book IV deals with the art of divination, or judicial astrology as practiced by the Aztecs, and in particular with the Tonalpohualli (ritual calendar). The Mesoamericans used two calendars, one solar and the other ritual. The Xiuhpohualli (solar calendar) had a cycle of 365 days divided into 18 months of 20 days each, plus five days considered inauspicious. The ritual calendar consisted of 260 days and was formed by associating the numbers from 1 to 13 with 20 different signs. A table that was principally used by priests in divination is reproduced in striking detail on folios 329r and 329v. Among the other illustrations in Book IV is a gruesome depiction of anthropophagy, or ritual cannibalism, which often was practiced as part of the rite of human sacrifice. Sahagún describes the sacrifice in relation to the festivals of Xipe Tótec, the god of spring and regeneration, and of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and of the sun (folio 268r). Prisoners were taken to the temple of Huitzilopochtli, killed, and their flesh consumed by the notables. By means of this practice, the strength of the enemy was consumed and assumed by their captors, in a kind of communion with the dead person and with the gods.

General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex. Book V: Omens and Superstitions

Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, the manuscript consists of 12 books devoted to different topics. Book V deals with omens, auguries, and superstitions. As in Book IV, on divination, Sahagún cites ancient native traditions gleaned from questionnaires and interactions with Nahua elders. Sahagún’s enduring interest in this subject was scholarly and ethnographic, but fundamentally religious in its motivation. He believed that many of the conversions to Christianity claimed by Catholic priests in Mexico were superficial, and masked lingering adherence to pagan beliefs. As he wrote in the prologue to his work, the “sins of idolatry and idolatrous rites, superstitions and omens, and superstitions and idolatrous ceremonies have not disappeared altogether. In order to preach against these things or even to be aware of their existence, we must be familiar with how they were practiced in pagan times, [because] through our ignorance, they [the Indians] do many idolatrous things without our understanding it.”