This feather mosaic triptych from 16th-century Mexico is one of just three that survive. It was created by indigenous featherworkers who adapted the pre-Hispanic technique to Christian use. An altar card, it pictures the Last Supper as the first Mass. The Latin text beneath the image begins: “For this is my body. For this is the chalice of my blood.” Feather mosaics were highly prized by Europeans for their exotic origin and appearance. The present work, which can be traced to a Florentine collection, was among the “objects of curious pictorial art” given to the Museum in 1888 by a Manhattan law firm.
Inscription: Hoc est enim corpus meus / Hic est enim calix saguinis / mei novi et eterni testamenti / mysterium fidei: effundetur in re / missionem peccatorum
(For this is my body. For this is the chalice of my blood of the new and eternal testament, the mystery of the faith which shall be shed for you and for many for the remission of sins)
Mme. D’Oliviera, Florence, until 1887; Coudert Brothers, New York, until 1888