The European Battle Fields! 1854

J.H. Colton & Co.'s Map of The European Battle Fields! 1854
D. McLellan, Lithographer
New York City, New York, 1854
hand colored lithograph
Professionally conserved
good, complete, professionally conserved, varnish removed, original colors, paper toned, some spotting, several areas paper cracking, backed with new linen, new silk edges
28.5 × 21.75 inches
Sale Status: 

Colton's 1854 map titled The European Battle Fields! that portrays current scenes of the Crimean War fought in Europe is a finely drawn tableaux of two maps, imagery and illustrated scenes. The title of the full map appears below the composition's midline, punctuated with an exclamation point to indicate the currency and urgency of the subject. Russia, the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire were at war in Europe although other continents are involved. This 1854 map subject resonates today.

The Colton map of the Crimean War presents the combatants:  in the top left corner an oval vignette of St. Petersburg, Russia representative of Russia's political identity sits just below the large top map title Map of Europe. The British Isles are drawn bounded by the Atlantic Ocean with sufficient picture space to portray a large steamship and two ships under sail. The map of Europe includes the top edge of North Africa, all of Europe and Asia's western edge including the Middle Eastern countries and eastern regions of Russia. The map's full title, The European Battle Fields ! is flanked on the left by the Russian Standard and on the right by the Turkish Standard. Overlapping part of the map's title is a large, detailed and slightly elevated view of Constantinople, showing numerous minarets, buildings and ships of many sizes and types. The view is taken as if from a ship or perhaps from the other bank of the Channel of Constantinople.

Graphically and symbolically, the vignette of Constantinople joins the Map of Europe to the second smaller map comprising the bottom third of the composition titled The Black Sea and Danube Provinces. Large, full masted ships are shown sailing in the Black Sea. The Crimean peninsula is the focal point. The Channel of Constantinople is prominently labeled and drawn at a scale too small to permit access by the three large ships sailing in the Black Sea.

The dynamic scenes and geography in this map are framed with a decorative border of grape vines entwined around a twig trellis, with corner blocks of leaves that lends some graphic relief to what otherwise would be a war report. Altogether, Colton's map of the Crimean War about the military battles being fought in the European Continent is art, political reporting and a reminder of the confluence of cultures, religion and history that converge at the gateway between Russia and Europe through the Channel of Constantinople.

This map is scarce. One copy located is a pocket map version in the Harvard Map Collection.

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