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From Moctezuma to Charles the Fifth: A glimpse into the Cultural Biography of an Ocelot-Hide Shield

April 11, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm



Portrait of Moctezuma, half-length, turned to the right, looking at the viewer, wearing feathered crown, holding spear in his right hand, his left hand pointing to a feathered shield on the left; illustration from André Thevet’s “Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres” (Paris, 1584).© The Trustees of the British Museum

Abstract: Two magnificent Pre-Columbian feathered pieces from the Habsburg collection now at the Weltmuseum in Vienna have aroused the curiosity of several researchers and the general public. “Motecuhzoma’s” Headdress and the Canine Shield have been examined from various perspectives and are considered exceptional sources for studying pre-Hispanic Mexican feather art. The uniqueness of their materials and meanings, as well as their aesthetic qualities and perceived value, led to their preservation and care by the Austrian imperial family. Less known is a shield made of feathers, gold, and ocelot hide, which left Mexico before the early sixteenth-century conquest of Tenochtitlan and eventually arrived at the Habsburg court in Vienna. In the mid-nineteenth century, Maximilian of Habsburg (1832–67), as emperor of Mexico, requested its repatriation to install in a new public museum he conceived for the Mexican capital. After entering this museum in 1866, the shield immediately became an essential piece of the country’s patrimonial collection. This presentation will survey the cultural biography of the Cuexio chimalli of Chapultepec—how it was made and used, what it means, how and why it was collected, and how it has been preserved and displayed during its recent history.

Laura Filloy Nadal holds a B.A. in restoration from the National School of Conservation, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in archeology from the Sorbonne in Paris. In 2022, she was designated associate curator of Ancient American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before, she served as senior conservator in the Conservation Laboratory of the National Museum of Anthropology, and as a professor at the National School of Anthropology and History and at the National Conservation School, both part of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico, teaching the methodologies for archaeological conservation courses. Among the distinctions she has received are her appointment as a member of the National System of Researchers-Mexico; the Paul Coremans Award for the best conservation work for the restoration of the jade funerary mask of Pakal, ruler of Palenque; and an honorable mention, Alfonso Caso Award in archeology, for her doctoral thesis, which is forthcoming with the Fondo de Cultura Económica. 


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

6:00 EST

Hybrid Lecture (in person and via Zoom)

Institute of Fine Arts–NYU

1 East 78th Street, New York, NY





April 11, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Pre-Columbian Society of New York


Institute of Fine Arts–NYU
1 E. 78th Street
New York, United States
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