April 29, 2013

First painting of Natives ever?

Images of Native Americans Revealed During Vatican Fresco CleaningDuring meticulous cleaning of a fresco titled “Resurrection” painted by Italian artist Pinturicchio on a wall in the Hall of Mysteries in the Borgia apartments, the Vatican declared in its newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, that they may have uncovered the first painted images of Native Americans.

“Just behind the Resurrection, behind a soldier who is enthralled by the incredible event he is seeing, you are able to discern nude men wearing feathers who appear to be dancing,” says Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci, according to a report in the Gazzetta del Sud, about the revealed images. The images were painted in 1494 shortly after Christopher Columbus returned from what he had dubbed the “New World” and handed over his diary describing what he saw.

“It would be far-fetched though to believe that the papal court was oblivious to what Colombo saw when he got to the other end of the world,” Paolucci said. “If the impressions of those nude, good, happy men who gave parrots as gifts and painted their bodies red and black are the dancing figures of Pinturicchio’s Resurrection, this would be the first representation of Native Americans.”
How native Americans hid in the Vatican for more than 500 years

Native Americans hidden in the Vatican for 509 years

Native American encounters took art into pastures nude

Traditionally the rebirth of nudity in art was traced to classical influence, but long-lost images of the New World in a Pinturicchio fresco hint at a different provenance

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Europeans Hated Indians' Virtues and Stereotypical Thanksgiving Paintings.

Below:  "Nude figures in the background of Pinturiccio's Resurrection."

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