Drawing From the Past: Maya Antiquity Through the Eyes of Frederick Catherwood

This exhibition represents a collaboration among the 19 students in the First Year Seminar, “Making Sense of the Pre-Columbian,” and Martin Antonetti, curator of the Mortimer Rare Book Room. In the fall of 2005, this seminar studied (among other things) the history of the ancient Maya, original works of Maya art in museum and private collections, the travel accounts written by John Lloyd Stephens in the 19th century, the lithographs created by Frederick Catherwood, and debates about the collection and meaning of pre-Columbian objects in the present. The exhibition title, the interpretive texts and the annotated bibliography were all written by the students in the seminar as their final project for the course. The exhibition is on view in Neilson Library through July 31, 2006.

Book Arts Gallery
Neilson Library, Level 3 Core
March 15 - July 31, 2006

A reception with the student curators was held on Thursday, March 30, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm in the Book Arts Gallery.

Book Cover: Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, 1844, by Frederick Catherwood

Online Exhibition: Plates

Each image below is a link to a particular facisimile lithographs from Catherwood's Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan (1844), including interpretative text written by the students. The images can be viewed in order via the links at the bottom of each page, or individually by returning to this home page and selecting the image you would like to view. Plate descriptions are also available in Spanish. See also the Annotated Bibliography.

Plate 1, Idol, Copán
Plate 1
Plate 2, Pyramidal Building, Copán
Plate 2
Pyramidal Building,
Plate 3, Back of an Idol, Copán
Plate 3
Back of Idol,
Plate 4, Broken Idol, Copán
Plate 4
Broken Idol,
Plate 5, Idol and Altar, Copán
Plate 5
Idol and Altar,
Plate 6, General View, Plalenque
Plate 6
General View,
Plate 7 top, Principal Court of the Palace, Palenque
Plate 7 top
Principal Court,
Palace, Palenque
Plate 7 bottom, Interior of Casa III, Palenque
Plate 7 bottom
Interior, Casa III,
Plate 8, General View of Las Monjas, Uxmal
Plate 8
General View, Las
Monjas, Uxmal
Plate 9, Ornament, Casa del Governador, Uxmal
Plate 9,
Ornament, Casa del
Gobernador, Uxmal
Plate 10, Archway, Casa del Gobernador, Uxmal
Plate 10
Archway, Casa del
Gobernador, Uxmal
Plate 11, Gateway of the  Great Teocallis, Uxmal
Plate 11
Gateway, Great
Teocallis, Uxmal
Plate 12, Ornament, Gateway of Great Teocallis, Uxmal
Plate 12
Ornament, Great
Teocallis, Uxmal
Plate 13, General View of Uxmal, Looking South
Plate 13
General View,
Plate 14, Portion of a Building, Las Monjas, Uxmal
Plate 14
Portion of Building,
Las Monjas, Uxmal
Plate 15, La Casa de Las Monjas, Uxmal
Plate 15
La Casa de Las
Monjas, Uxmal
Plate 16, General View,  Kabáh
Plate 16
General View,
Plate 17, Interior of Principal Building, Kabáh
Plate 17
Interior, Principal
Building, Kabáh
Plate 18, Well and Building, Sabactsche
Plate 18
Well and Building,
Plate 19, Gateway, Labnah
Plate 19
Plate 20, Well, Bolonchen
Plate 20
Plate 21, Las Monjas,  Chichén-Itzá
Plate 21
Las Monjas,
Plate 22, Teocallis, Chichén-Itzá
Plate 22
Plate 23, Castle, Tuloom
Plate 23
Plate 24, Temple, Tuloom
Plate 24

Plate 25, Colossal Head, Izamal
Plate 25
Colossal Head,

Special thanks to Martin Antonetti, Betsy Barone, Barbara Blumenthal, Dick Fish, Karina Hernández, Elisa Lanzi, Linda Muehlig, Sherry Poirrier and Barbara Polowy, all of whom contributed significantly to this First Year Seminar, this exhibition and its website. I also acknowledge College Hall and the Smith College Museum of Art, whose financial support enabled us to travel to museum collections during our seminar, borrow original objects to study, and present a Spanish-language version of our work. And most definitely, thanks to Christine Nicolov ‘73, who inspired us to take on this project in the first place.


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