The Earliest Printed View of the Mission San Luis Rey and Earliest Surviving View of Any Building in San Diego County
Fine large view of the Mission San Luis Rey, one of two Spanish Missions built in what would become San Diego County.
Based upon our research, this is the earliest printed view of any structure in Southern California and quite possibly the earliest printed image of any structure in Southern California.
The Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is a former Spanish mission in San Luis Rey, a neighborhood of Oceanside, California. This Mission lent its name to the Luiseño tribe of Mission Indians.
The full name of the mission is La Misión de San Luis, Rey de Francia (The Mission of Saint Louis, King of France). It was named for King Louis IX of France. Its nickname is "King of the Missions" It was founded by padre Fermín Lasuén on June 12, 1798, the eighteenth of the twenty-one Spanish missions built in the Alta California Province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
At its prime, Mission San Luis Rey's structures and services compound covered almost 950,400 acres, making it the largest of the missions, along with its surrounding agricultural land. Multiple outposts were built in support of Mission San Luis Rey and placed under its supervision, including San Antonio de Pala Asistencia in 1816 and Las Flores Estancia in 1823.
The current church, built in 1815, is the third church on this location. It is a National Historic Landmark, for its pristine example of a Spanish mission church complex.
In 1839, Eugene Duflot de Mofras, was assigned to the embassy in Mexico City and instructed to visit the northwestern provinces of Mexico, report on potential commerce, observe U. S., British, and Russian interests, and determine feasibility of French posts in the region. De Mofras visited Jalisco, Colima, Sinaloa, and Sonora in 1840, then sailed from Mazatlán to Monterey. He met with commandant Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo in Sonoma, continued to Fort Ross, and returned to Monterey in July. On September 1 he sailed up the Sacramento River with A.G. Rotchev, manager of Fort Ross, to New Helvetia, where he met with John Sutter, with whom Rotchev was to initiate negotiations for sale of the Russian fort. He later visited San Jose, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco, before travelling to the Hudson Bay Company's Fort Vancouver. On this trip, de Mofras met and talked with Charles Wilkes. He returned to San Francisco with Hudson Bay Company director Sir George Simpson and factor John McLoughlin and U.S. agent Horatio Hale to Monterey. On January 3 1842, de Mofras sailed via Santa Bárbara to San Diego, before returning to Mexico.
Duflot de Mofras provided important information on its economic life, foreign involvement, and geography. He provides excellent descriptions of the Russian posts at Ross and Bodega just prior to their sale to the United States, notes Sutter's willingness to serve France, and reports on the reputed plot of Isaac Graham to overthrow Mexican government in California.
Eugene Duflot de Mofras was a traveler, naturalist, diplomat, and spy. In 1839, du Mofras was appointed attaché to the French delegation to the Mexican government. While there, he was tasked with visiting the northern areas of Mexico; he was sent both as an official visitor but also as a veritable spy, gathering intelligence as to likely places to establish French trading posts. In 1844 he published an account of his travels, complete with an influential map of western North America.