Jennifer von Schwerin (Kunstgeschichte, Freiburg i. Br.)

Portraiture in Ancient American Art and Architecture (1200 B.C. – A.D. 1500) – Virtual Lecture

Ort: Virtual Lecture via Zoom

Zeit: 18.00 Uhr

Kontakt: Karena Weduwen

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The lecture will be held in English.

This lecture surveys how portraiture was used – and not used – by ancient American cultures. This overview helps us to understand the significance of eight, life-size statues that once adorned an 8th-century royal temple at the ancient Maya kingdom and UNESCO World Heritage site of Copan, Honduras. There has been a good deal of research on portraiture in the Ancient Americas. The first portraits appear with the Olmec civilization centered on of the Gulf Coast of Mexico in 1200 B.C., and the last pre-Hispanic portrait was commissioned by the Aztec ruler Moctezuma in the 15thcentury. Perhaps the most famous portraiture from the ancient Americas is that of the Maya kings and queens of Mexico and Central America, found on stone stelae and painted vessels from the 2nd to the 9th centuries AD. But portraits of humans did not appear on temple facades until the 7th century AD (before only images of deities appeared on temple exteriors). With the above-mentioned temple at Copan, we have one of the earliest and best preserved examples of statues of humans on a temple facade. Do these statues represent the ruler, an ancestor, or a deity? Does this shift indicate a change in the nature of divine kingship during the Late Classic period (AD 600-900)? Finally, what insights do we gain from a study of portraiture – both into these ancient cultures, but also into our 21st-century selves? 

Die MLC Vorträge finden in diesem Semester aufgrund der Schutzmaßnahmen zur Eindämmung der Covid-19-Pandemie als virtuelle Vorträge über Zoom statt. Zuhörerinnen und Zuhörer sind herzlich willkommen.  Zur Anmeldung für eine Online-Lecture wenden Sie sich bitte an Karena Weduwen (karena.weduwen[at]

Audio recordings

Jennifer von Schwerin (Freiburg i. Br.) Portraiture in Ancient American Art and Architecture (1200 B.C. – A.D. 1500)