Néstor Ponce de León

The Columbus Gallery
The 'Discoverer of the New World' as represented in Portraits, Monuments, Statues, Medals and Paintings
Historical Description.

New York: N. Ponce de Leon, 1893.

Table of contents

[page 39]



To this group I will assign a few pictures and engravings. Statues and bass-reliefs will be dealt with in their proper places in this work.

  1. The Zschoch Engraving.
  2. The Holt Engraving.
  3. The Columbus of the Barabino Painting.
  4. Wapper, Columbus in Chains.
  5. The Riecke Engraving.
  6. The Jacotin.
  7. The Venetian Mosaic.
THE ZSCHOCH ENGRAVING.—I reproduce the Zschoch engraving, which I believe is based on that of Montanus, because it represents Columbus with hair, mustache and beard arranged somewhat after the ancient Assyrian fashion, and were it not for the ruff around the neck he would resemble a pirate in a sensational drama. It has all the wellknown lineaments of Columbus, but it is easily seen that it is an entirely imaginary portrait. All that I know about it is, that it is engraved by Zschoch, and that I have three different copies of it, but I fail to find the name of this engraver in any of the biographical dictionaries I have consulted. (Cut No. 21.)

[page 40] THE HOLT ENGRAVING.—My object in presenting this picture to my readers is only to show how widely an entirely ideal portrait, possessing all the characteristics of Columbus, can differ from others having the same general features. It is the face of a man capable of realizing all the dreams of the Admiral. The execution is good, but, as a portrait of Columbus, it is entirely worthless. (Cut No. 22.)

THE NICOLO BARABINO PORTRAIT.—At the Orsini Palace in Genoa is Olie of the most powerful and beautiful paintings referring to the life of Columbus. I regret that its very large size prevents me from presenting an engraving of it to my readers I have taken the full lengt1h portrait of Columbus from it. (Cut No. 23.)
In the great and magnificently decorated hall of I the convent of Santo Domingo, at Salamanca, many of its learned monks are assembied by order of the King and Queen. They have just listened to the demonstrations of Columbus, and nothing is more amusing than to see the different expressions on the faces of the good monks. Some look with wonder at the majestic man who is explaining to them doctrines entirely contrary to what their scientific lore has taught them; others cross their hands and bow their heads as if praying heaven to pardon the man who is expounding such impious ideas; others take things more easily, they simply believe the poor sailor is a crank of the harmless class, and laugh at him; one turns away his head, in order that he may laugh to his heart's content; another tries to conceal his grinning face with a book, while still another points his finger at his own forehead, and appears to be indicating to his brethren that "that fellow's mind is not well-balanced." One of the most magnificent faces is that of an old monk by the side of Columbus, leaning heavily against the wooden railing, and looking at the face of the Admiral with an expression of the most profound astonishment, wondering whether he be a genius or a fool.
But the figure of Columbus is something superb. Barabino has given him a cast of face tallying admirably with the descriptions we have of him. His high forehead, uncombed and flowing hair, eagle eyes, magnificent nose and energetic mouth, show how he is repressing his indignation at seeing that these men, who are to be the arbiters of the realization of his life plans, cannot understand him and are laughing in derision at what they in their ignorance, consider as the dreams of a fool.

[page 42] THE WAPPERS PORTRAIT.—From a beautiful engraving in a French illustrated paper, I have taken the portrait of Columbus which appears in tbe famous historical painting by Wappers, "Columbus in Chains." The artist has followed the descriptions of Columbus and idealized his face. I very much regret that I cannot present the whole picture, but the only engraving I have been able to find in the United States is copyrighted by the Magazine of [page 43] American History, and my request for permission to reproduce it has met with a peremptory refusal. (Cut No. 24.)

THE RIECKE PORTRAIT.—In the work by Dr. G. A. Riecke, entitled, Christoph Columbus der Entdecker Amerika's, there is a beautiful engraving representing Columbus in chains on board the ship which is carrying him home to Spain. The Admiral is shown reclining at the foot of a mast, the sea being represented in the background. He is clothed in black, with a large lightcolored mantle partially enveloping him. He bas long hair with a full beard and is leaning on bis left hand, while with the right he is trying to lessen the weight of bis heavy fetters. The expression of the face is admirable and accords with the descriptions of Columbus, but at the same time it does not resemble the generally accepted type.

JACOTIN.—Among the many so-called portraits of Columbus which I have in my collection, I have selected this one for publication only on account of its beauty. It has also many of the lineaments characteristic of Columbus, yet it is entirely ideal. I have copied it from a photograph given to me by Mr. Ernesto de Zaldo, of this city, who bought it in Paris, in the photographie gallery of Jacotin. It resembles none of the other portraits of Columbus which I have seen. (Cut No. 25.)

THE VENETIAN MOSAIC.—In 1867 the Common Council of the city of Venice resolved to send as a present to her ancient rival, Genoa, two beautiful mosaics of two great Genoese, Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. This was an act of reciprocity, as Genoa had not long before presented Venice with the busts of Pietro D'Oria and Vettor Pisani.
The mosaic is a magnificent piece of work, six feet and a half high, beautifully framed in black marble. The figure of Columbus is depicted on a gold background, clothed in the dress of a Venetian nobleman of the fifteenth century. Columnbus is clean shaved; the hair is not verylong; he wears a barret cap and holds a map in his hand. He bas a lownecked shirt with a ruff, and an ample mantle of velvet with silk lapels. The model followed appears to be that of the Jovian portrait. (Cut No. 26.) Continue