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Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya

Palenque, Mexico  • Portrait head of Pakal  • AD 650-683 • Stucco  • Museo Nacional de Antropología -  • INAH, Mexico • © photo: Michael Zabé • Photo courtesy of National Gallery of Art
Palenque, Mexico
Portrait head of Pakal
AD 650-683
Museo Nacional de Antropología -
INAH, Mexico
© photo: Michael Zabé
Photo courtesy of National Gallery of Art
Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya
SAN FRANCISCO  •  Legion of Honor  •  Ongoing
First on view earlier this year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya brings together some 130 masterworks, approximately half of them from museums in Mexico, along with outstanding examples from American, European, and Australian collections. The majority of works from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras are coming to the United States for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates the visual magnificence and the complexity of life at court, particularly at Palenque, Mexico, but at other city-states as well. The objects on view include primary works of stone sculpture such as stelae, lintels and panels, as well as works in other media, including ceramics, precious stone, and shell.

Among the signal works on display are the stucco Portrait Head of Pakal (650-680) from Palenque; an intricate jade, obsidian, and shell mask from Calakmul (650-800); and a magnificent carved limestone disk from Chinkultik bearing the likeness of a Maya ballplayer (610-630). The exhibition also focuses on the primacy of word and image in the court, and the status of scribes and artists. Relevant images of paintings from the most recent documentation of the Bonampak murals, the Bonampak Documentation Project, are also featured.

Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya is curated by curator-in-charge Kathleen Berrin, Fine Arts Museums Curator of Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and visiting curator Professor Mary Miller, Vincent Scully Professor of the History of Art, Yale University.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive, fully-illustrated 300-page exhibition catalogue by Professor Miller and noted British epigrapher Simon Martin, with a foreword by Kathleen Berrin. The catalogue is published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Thames & Hudson, New York and London.

Legion of Honor Web Site

Contact: Tel: (1) 415 863 33 30

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