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  • The abstract for Tuesday’s Working Papers: André Thevet was the sixteenth-century French royal cosmographer whose final work, The True Portraits and Lives of Illustrious Greek, Latin, and Pagan Men (1584), contains over 200 portraits that incorporated Amerindians of the New World into the halls of great European men. As a traveler and collector, Thevet could claim the status of eyewitness to the New World, which, he assumed, would grant him the authority to invent the visage of the Aztec king Moctezuma, for which there was no visual basis. While this invention was a necessity, it reveals the power of portraiture to reclaim the status of eyewitness by those who held his book. Nonetheless, Thevet’s ethnography was part of a European colonial project that was under intense scrutiny during his time, as was his accountability as eyewitness. For these reasons his portrait of Moctezuma was transformed by later authors who otherwise reproduced portraits from his book.
    November 13, 2015 at 10:49 am