Archival Program Information
For current Research Institute events, please see The Getty Event Calendar


Thursday, November 7, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium, The Getty Center

Detail of the Florentine Codex
In August 1576, in the midst of an outbreak of a plague, the Spanish Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún and 22 indigenous artists locked themselves away in the school of Santa Cruz de Tlaltelolco in Mexico City with the mission to create nothing less than the first illustrated encyclopedia of the New World. The manuscript, divided into 12 volumes and now known as the Florentine Codex, is the single most important artistic and historical document for the study of the peoples and cultures of pre-Hispanic and colonial Central Mexico. The completed manuscript reflects both indigenous and Spanish traditions of writing and painting, including parallel columns of text in Spanish and Nahuatl and over 2,000 watercolor illustrations prepared in both European and Aztec pictorial styles.

New research has revealed the complexity of meanings inherent in the selection of pigments used in the manuscript, providing a fascinating glimpse into a previously hidden symbolic language. Drawing upon new approaches in art history, anthropology, and materials science, Diana Magaloni Kerpel explores one of the world's great manuscripts, created at a pivotal moment in the early modern Americas.

Diana Magaloni Kerpel is a researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

This lecture and the accompanying publication (due out in 2014) are sponsored by the Getty Research Institute Council.