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Extremely rare copy of the Venezuelan Declaration of Independance 'Declaracion de Independencia de las Siete Provincias Unidas de Venezuela en Congreso de 5 de Julio de 1811'

By Lorenzo Lüthy (c. 1811-1877), printed in Philadelphia, Peter S. Duval, 1841.

Lithograph on laid paper, mounted in passepartout, H. 84 x W. 64.5 cm (with mount H. 96.5 x W. 77 cm.)
Approx. H. 33 x W. 25.4 inch (with mount H. 37.9 x W. 30.3 inch)

Large and extremely rare lithographed broadside Declaration of Independence of Venezuela by American immigrant artist Lorenzo Lüthy of which just a hundred copies were made.
No other copies are documented except for a “very elaborately executed” manuscript facsimile in the Boston Public Library (Whitney). The present lithograph was the third printing of the entire text of the declaration: the first was in a newspaper shortly after the declaration was signed and the second was in 1823, printed in letterpress and titled Declaracion de Independencia (González Guinán).


Lorenzo (Lorenz) Lüthy was born in Switzerland and moved ca. 1840 to Venezuela. On June 28, 1841, he advertised as a professional calligrapher in the Caracas newspaper El Venezolano, taking subscriptions for a lithograph to be made under his direction in the United States to celebrate the 1811 Venezuelan Declaration of Independence. Lüthy had experience with artistic projects in Europe and when he came to Venezuela he must have signalled a need for a printing of the Declaration of Independence. His plan was a success and he arrived on August 28 in Philadelphia to arrange for the lithography, intending to return to Caracas with the finished product. The lithograph is indeed dated on the stone: 1841. He had a hundred copies made and when he returned to Venezuela with the prints he had them signed by the governor. In 1850 he immigrated to the US for good, his immigration records show him arriving in New Orleans from San Juan, Nicaragua in 1850. From then on he worked as an artist in and around New Hampshire, producing lithographs and paintings.


Essential for the authenticity of the reproduction of the Declaration were the facsimile autographs of all who signed the original document. However, the original had gone missing shortly after it was signed. The Venezuelan government had ordered two facsimiles to be made, one in 1823 titled Declaracion de Independencia and the present lithograph from 1841. Both were made without having seen the original (González Guinán).  

The Declaration of Independence was passed by a Congress of the Venezuelan Provinces on July 5, 1811, decreeing to secede from the Spanish Crown to create a new nation, freed from 300 years of colonization. The statement announced a new nation called the Confederación Americana de Venezuela and was written primarily by Cristóbal Mendoza and Juan Germán Roscio. Seven of the ten provinces belonging to the Capitanía General de Venezuela declared their independence after the abdications of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII. The seven provinces were the Provincia de Caracas, Provincia de Nueva Andalucía y Paria, Provincia de Barinas, Provincia de Margarita, Provincia de Barcelona, ​​Provincia de Mérida and the Provincia de Trujillo. The other three provinces, the Provincia de Maracaibo, Provincia de Coro and Provincia de Guayana, did not participate in the Congress because they did not want to secede from the Spanish Crown. The declaration was ratified by Congress on July 7, 1811, and recorded in the minutes of the Congress on August 17, 1811 in Caracas.

Reference:

- Wes Balla & Donna Belle Garvin, Captain Lorenzo Lüthÿ (c. 1811 – before 1877?), in: White Mountain Art & Artists, New Hampshire Historical Society, see: www.whitemountainart.com/about-3/artists/captain-lorenzo-luthy-c-1811-before-1877/

- Boletín del Archivo General de la Nación, Venezuela, 1968, p. 169, no. 10: “Lorenzo Luthy solicita del Gobernador se suscriba con cien ejemplares del Acta de la Independencia , litografiada en los Estados Unidos”

- Copy of the original Declaracion de Independencia manuscript: www.venezuelatuya.com/historia/5independencia/declaracion_de_independencia.pdf

- Francisco González Guinán, Hallazgo del acta solemne de independancia de Venezuela y de otras actas originales del Congreso constituyente de 1811. Valencia, 1908, pp. 33-35.

- James Lyman Whitney, Catalogue of the Spanish Library and of the Portuguese Books Bequeathed by George Ticknor to the Boston Public Library (…). Boston, 1879, p. 398.

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