Picturesque America, or The Land we Live In, Edited by William Cullen Bryant, 2 Vol Set, 1872, 1874.

Bryant, William Cullen [Editor]. Picturesque America; or the land We Live In. A Delineation by Pen and Pencil of The mountains, Rivers, Lakes, Forests, Water-Falls, Shores, Canons, Valleys, Cities, and other Picturesque Features of our Country. With illustrations on steel and wood, by eminent American Artists. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1872, 1874. Folio volumes, in original full leather bindings. 

Presented is a two volume folio set of Picturesque America, edited by William Cullen Bryant and published in 1872 and 1874.  The work's many essays, together with its nine hundred wood engravings and fifty steel engravings, are considered to have had a profound influence on the growth of tourism and the historic preservation movement in the United States. 

The two volumes are illustrated throughout with beautiful steel engravings and numerous wood engravings. The images include diverse scenes from the Catskills to pre-bridge Golden Gate Harbor and are engraved after original art by famous 19th century painters Thomas Moran, R. Swain Gifford, Harry Fenn, James D. Smillie, and others. For several years artists were specially employed by Bryant to visit different parts of the States for the purpose of procuring designs for this work. An 1876 advertisement by publisher D. Appleton  & Co. for the work boasts, “the views, hence, are not only original and trustworthy, but possess the vividness of personal observation, and include the movement and life characteristic of each locality. The volumes are something more than a gallery of landscapes; they exhibit our people in their methods of living and traveling, delineate the picturesque phases of commerce, as well as the sublime forms of our hills, show the often beautiful setting of our cities, and portray the active and brilliant panorama of our bays and rivers.” (Publisher's advertisement in the Gems of the Centennial Exhibition, Phila. 1876).

Entering the marketplace just as American publishing expanded, Picturesque America allowed many Americans to see, for the first time, what they had only abstractly imagined as their country. With detailed prints and intriguing articles, Picturesque America exposed readers to parts of America that were just being explored, as well as more familiar scenes of established cities. It also presented a unified, expanding, and prosperous country, moving on after the strife of the Civil War. 

"Picturesque America was a conspicuous presence in the popular culture of the United States in the post-Civil War years. First published as a magazine series in Appletons' Journal, then as a subscription book, in parts, from 1872 to 1874, it reached a huge audience. It's voluminous text and over 900 pictures represented the first comprehensive celebration of the entire continental nation” (Rainey, Creating Picturesque America).


Very good condition. Two thick folio volumes. Original publisher’s deluxe full blind-tooled morocco leather binding. Decorative gilt pictorial title to front boards. Spine with raised bands, blind stamping, and gilt titles. Bright gilt end pages. Marbled end paper. Paper is healthy, with only sporadic light foxing on some pages, as to be expected with mid-19th century paper. Steel and wood engravings throughout, with original tissue guards present. Some rubbing to bindings. No missing pages. 

Dimensions: 13"H x 10 7/8"W x 2 1/2"D (each)

Related Items