Rare Mexican feather work sold at Paris auction
Rare Mexican feather work sold at Paris auction

Rare Mexican feather work sold at Paris auction

24/09/2019
14:15
Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
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The feather mosaic picture was made in Mexico during Colonial times for Christian conquerors and was purchased by Museé du Quai Branly in an auction held at Hotel Drouot in Paris

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Made with feathers from 14 birds species, an exceptional mosaic made by Aztec artists during the 16th century in Mexico will be displayed in the Museé du Quai Branly in Paris which recently bought it.

In late May, the museum reserved it with a preferential purchase option for EUR € 283,360, over three times its estimated price, during an auction at Hotel Drouot in Paris, the main French auction house.

Just last week, Mexico protested for an auction of pre-Columbian art in Drouot, considering that most of the pieces, coming mainly from a private French collection, belonged to its cultural heritage.

Questioned by AFP about the auction of this mosaic, sources from the Mexican embassy in France said “to be researching” the case.
 

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“Christ the good pastor and two scenes of the life of St. John the Baptist in a landscape” was defined by this museum, that displays pieces from non-European civilizations, as “one of the most beautiful [pieces] of Colonial Mexican feathered art of Aztec technique.”

Of small dimensions (20.4 x 30.12cm), the religious piece in which John Baptist is portrayed with his disciples in a forest landscape is made with feathers from small birds, such as hummingbirds, and it is very intricate: the gradient, the beards, and even the iris of the eyes.

“During the Aztec empire, feathered art was extremely valued. They made prestigious objects, clothes, ceremonial objects… Feathers had a sacred value,” explained Paz Núñez-Requeiro, Quai Branly’s head of the heritage unit of the Americas.

The artwork was made from models from Flanders and Germanic countries.
 

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During the 16th century, “the objective of evangelists was to use a material full of meaning for indigenous people with the purpose of easing their adhesion to a new religion,” according to a release issued by the museum.

The piece of art, which “shines like the first day” is preserved in its original frame and in the back it has a handwritten inscription, “Del príncipe,” which suggests that it probably comes from a prince collection of the 16th or 17th century, said the expert.

It was preserved by an aristocratic family from southwest France since the late 19th century. “We are working to try to trace back its journey before this date,” said Núñez-Requeiro.
 

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