03 May 2013

First European Image of Amerindians

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Bernardino di Betto, called Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio, Detail from The Resurrection, 1494, Musei Vaticani

Restoration of a painting of the Resurrection of Christ by Pinturicchio, commissioned by Pope Alexander VI to ornament his Papal apartments found that the painting’s background features “nude men, who are decorated with feathers and seem to be dancing.”

Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, announced that these figures have been recognized as representations of Native Americans which were painted on the basis of their description by Christopher Columbus in 1494, in the direct aftermath of his first voyage of discovery to the New World.

The painting had been long neglected because of the unsavory character of Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI). Subsequent popes closed and abandoned his apartments, which were only re-opened for the first time after his death in 1503 in 1889 by Pope Leo XIII.

Telegraph story.

Via the Dish.


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