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Westward expansion in the United States was deeply intertwined with the technological revolutions of the nineteenth century, from telegraphy to railroads. Among the most important of these, if often forgotten, was the lithograph. Before photography became a dominant medium, lithography—and later, chromolithography—enabled inexpensive reproduction of color illustrations, transforming journalism and marketing and nurturing, for the first time, a global visual culture. One of the great subjects of the lithography boom was an emerging Euro-American colony in the Americas: Texas.
The most complete collection of its kind—and quite possibly the most complete visual record of nineteenth-century Texas, period—Texas Lithographs is a gateway to the history of the Lone Star State in its most formative period. Ron Tyler assembles works from 1818 to 1900, many created by outsiders and newcomers promoting investment and settlement in Texas. Whether they depict the early French colony of Champ d’Asile, the Republic of Texas, and the war with Mexico, or urban growth, frontier exploration, and the key figures of a nascent Euro-American empire, the images collected here reflect an Eden of opportunity—a fairy-tale dream that remains foundational to Texans’ sense of self and to the world’s sense of Texas.