Nice example of one of the earliest bird's-eye views of California, published by Charles Gildemeister, and printed by D'Avignon in New York, for Thomas O. Larkin.
The view depicts Monterey at the height of its importance as the Mexican Capital of Alta California. Taken from a finely executed series of sketches (possibly by Edward Vischer, one of California's most important early artists, who first came to Monterey in 1842), the view provides a remarkable early record of the town and Harbor.
There seem to be two schools of thought as to the creation of the view. In California on Stone, Harry Peters, who notes:
On October 19, 1842, the surrender of Monterey was demanded by Commodore Thomas C. Jones, commander of the Pacific Fleet. The American flag flew over the plaza for several days before Jones realized his mistake, lowered the flag, and withdrew. One of Jones' officers made a sketch of Monterey at this time, which was later lithographed and sent to Thomas Larkin, an American of some importance then living in Monterey. This was undoubtedly the D'Avignon lithograph.
A slightly different account of the creation of the print is given in the Museum and On-Line Archive of the State of California, which notes:
Thomas Larkin, later United States Consul commissioned drawings of the settlement in 1842 and later published them at his own expense in 1850. The quality of this drawing is excellent and may be attributed to Edward Vischer who was then living in Monterey.
In Monterey's Waterfront, the authors expand on the above, stating:
Monterey's first and only American Consul, Thomas Larkin, commissioned this pictorial map depicting early Monterey. Larkin had the drawing done to show off his new home, seen in the middle at left. Note that prior to Larkin's wharf of 1845, both passengers and cargo were rowed by boat to shore near the Custom House.
The view shows Monterey Bay with houses (some with yards enclosed by stucco walls) and columned portico buildings. There are people on the dirt streets, some riding horses, oxen-drawn cart at left, solid wooden bridge at right. Sailing ships and row boats on Bay, low hills in background.
Peters notes that D'Avignon was at the 323 Broadway address in 1849. Reps list two editions of the map, with slightly different titles and slightly different sizes.
Because of its historical importance, several examples of the view are known in public collections. However, in modern times, the view has become virtually unobtainable, with the last reported sale at auction coming in 1975 (Sotheby Park Bernet), where a folded example of the view brought $1,000.