Collecting Feathers: A Journey from Mexico into Italian Collections (Sixteenth-Seventeenth Century)

Corinna Tania Gallori

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


In ancient Mexico feathers were considered precious. They had a relevant material value for the indigenous populations and were used by wealthy or powerful individuals as accessories, headdress or ornaments complementing their fashionable attire, to decorate high-ranking soldiers’ shields, or to ornate statues of the gods. After the Conquest and the fall of the “Aztec empire”, Mexican objects made of or decorated with feathers quickly attracted the attention of Spanish Conquistadores and missionary friars sent to convert the “newly discovered” people. As a result, several feather artefacts were sent back to Europe, while in Mexico a new application to featherwork was born: feathery versions of Christian images. This essay aims to tell the history of Christian featherwork that arrived in Italy in the 16th and early 17th century. I’ll start by canvassing the presence of feather artifacts in important Italian collections of the time, including that of at least four Popes and those in the hands of the Medici. I will then explore where and in what context these artifacts were displayed. Finally, I will provide an assessment regarding the underlying motivations of appreciation and success of such works based on the analysis of selected contemporary documents by various authors.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteCollecting East & West
EditorSusan Bracken, Andrea M. Gáldy, Adriana Turpin
Numero di pagine17
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2013
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Ars plumaria
  • Carlo Borromeo
  • Charles Borromeo
  • Cinquecento
  • Collecting and display
  • Collezionismo
  • Featherwork
  • Firenze
  • Florence
  • Italia
  • Italy
  • Medici
  • Medici family
  • Messico
  • Mexico
  • Milan
  • Milano
  • Roma
  • Rome
  • Sixteenth century


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