Mexican News

Alfred Jones (1819-1900) after a painting by Richard Caton Woodville (1825-1855), Mexican News. Published by the American Art Union, 1851. Hand colored engraving. Gift of Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953. Graphic Arts division GA2008- in process

Between 1846 and 1847, the United States was at war with Mexico. Artists of the extremely influential American Art Union (AAU) created a number of prints, paintings, and maps showing the events and characters involved in the war to satisfy an engaged public.

One of the most successful was the oil painting by Richard Caton Woodville (1825-1955) entitled War News from Mexico, which shows a dapper-looking man reading the news aloud to a small crowd on the porch of the American Hotel. Painted in 1848 while Woodville was an art student in Düsseldorf, the canvas was exhibited at the AAU’s gallery in 1849 and reproduced in the AAU Bulletin, which circulated to its nearly 19,000 members.

George Austen, the AAU treasurer, purchased the painting and commissioned Alfred Jones (1819-1900) to create two color engravings of the scene—a large folio and the other a small print—which were published by the AAU in 1851. Princeton owns copies of both prints.

Note: This work is by the American artist Woodville who died at the age of 30, not to be confused with the British artist of the same name (1856-1927) who created many war and genre scenes for the Illustrated London News.