The Colonial Andes: Tapestries and Silverwork, 1530–1830

September 29–December 12, 2004

Inspirations and Transformations

Exquisite metalwork and tapestry reveal how European motifs—in particular, significant elements of Renaissance style—were incorporated into the work of Andean artists and craftsmen. One splendid example that will be on view is a gold "poison cup," retrieved from the Atocha shipwreck. Because of its classic Renaissance design, this drinking cup was at first thought to have been of European origin, but its details indicate that it is the work of a New World silversmith. Beyond the technical mastery it displays, it is remarkable for its intended function: it was configured to hold a bezoar stone, or a deposit formed in the stomach of camelids like llamas and alpacas, that was believed to possess the ability to absorb poisons.