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Current time:0:00Total duration:7:31

Screen with the Siege of Belgrade and Hunting Scene (Brooklyn Biombo)

Viceroyalty of New Spain

Video transcript

we're standing here in front of a folding screen from Mexico made about 1700 this is just wild this is one of the most complicated objects I have ever looked at it's actually a really unique object this folding screen is inspired by Japanese folding screen and we call it a beyond bow and so a be humble actually comes from the Japanese word for folding screen but this is a word that would have been used in the Spanish colony that is now Mexico right at this point in time Mexico is part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain comprised of parts of the southwestern United States Mexico and down through Central America the viceroy is actually the administrator to the king you have the king in Spain his colony in the New World and they're looking to Japan for inspiration exactly early in the 17th century there's this interest in Japanese objects that are coming to Mexico from the Philippines which is also controlled by Spain at this time so why was there trade with the Philippines what was being traded the types of objects being traded included folding screens lacquerware boxes ivory goods and other luxury items I'm seeing at the base and at the top black that looks very much like Japanese lacquer as these lacquer boxes are coming into Mexico and there's this kind of craze for Japanese goods or Japanese inspired goods and so what we see here is actually a Mexican artist who has created something in the guise of a Japanese lacquer ware box and so the bottom elements have these beautiful Japanese landscape elements and then you get the decorative floral elements bordering the entirety of the screen so this must have been fabulously expensive and the height of what was in vogue at this moment absolutely in fact we know who owned this object it was the Viceroy himself Jose started me into a date by adidas and we know that at that moment there's tremendous money being generated by these colonies at this time you have huge silver mining industry raw goods like coach Anil tobacco various other types of things that are all being sent back to Europe and so people like the Viceroy are able to acquire these types of goods and put them on display in their homes let's take a look at the screen itself most striking at least from this is this battle seen half the battle seen this [ __ ] is actually only half of the original the other half is in a museum in Mexico City we're presented with this really chaotic scene between members of the Habsburg Empire the Spanish Empire at the time and the Turks so the Hapsburgs the family that ruled Spain and was in control of so much of the new world but was also in control of Central Europe the scene that it's showing is taking place not long before this object is produced and so this battle is actually very contemporary seeing the Battle of Belgrade between the Ottoman Turks encroaching into Central Europe but here we are in Mexico and this is a Japanese screen it's just mind-blowing Mexico being in the middle of all these networks of exchange the trans-pacific exchange objects being traded from Asia going through Mexico back to Europe objects being traded from Europe that are then going through Mexico to Asia and it really blows apart the way in which were usually taught history stylistic categories can often break down when you see things that speak to so many different cultures so let's look really closely at the styles in the screen what I'm seeing is not only this delicate very thin painting which is almost like drawing but I'm also seeing these areas that are just brilliantly illuminated and it's shale so this object is truly unique because this is not only a be humble but this is part of the only known surviving beyond bow encantado and cachero means shell inlay so this is a shell encrusted beyond bow so it's a combination of oil painting and mother-of-pearl that's been placed into the screen itself I can see it in the helmet which is making the helmet seem to shine and it's probably most prominent in floral motifs that are at the very top that frame the battle scene but you have to imagine when this is placed in a room how different parts of it would grab your attention because of the flickering candle light we don't know exactly who the artist of this be Umble was but what we do know is that it's being made locally so it's made by an artist in New Spain at the time for the Viceroy most likely to be placed inside of his new palace in Mexico City so who would have seen this who was the intended audience each side of the beyond both were intended for different audiences so the side with the battle would have been intended or the Viceroy people coming to visit the Viceroy important individuals people who he's bringing in to his reception room essentially so this would have a political use as an expression of his power this particular Viceroy has come from Spain to rule over this colony and so this would assert the dominance of the Habsburg in Mexico and globally since this is also the hapsburgs victory over the Ottomans I want to go see the other side this is completely different this feels so much more relaxed it feels much more decorative and the way that the decorative border hangs it looks like it's textile it's a hunting scene but it really is showcasing the artists ability to display for us this beautiful landscape scene I agree with you that the side looks like this beautiful asian-inspired tapestry that might be hanging in someone's room someone of this wealthy status we know that the design at least for the hunting scene came from a Medici tapestry that was made in France the tapestry was then copied into a print and that's how it appears here in Mexico and the same thing with the other side with the battle scene it was also based off of a print coming from Europe I really love this side of the screen you have again a footing which is reminiscent of lack aware from Japan but then above that is very dense botanical motif with all these blossoms creating this frame that allows us to look into this deep space into this really spectacular landscape the hunting scene that we have a kind of feast for the eye in terms of landscape elements and beautiful brushwork on display here it's almost hard to remember that we're in the new world when we're looking at this side of the screen the motif seems so European on both sides of the screen there's actually a lot of classicizing elements the swag is here at the top held in the mountains by lions this is a very classical element that you see in the Renaissance that's coming from ancient Rome so this side of the screen was actually intended for a very different audience than the battle scene the battle scene was intended for the individuals advice would be receiving and this actual side of the folding screen would have been largely viewed by women so imagine this is essentially the room where the Viceroy his wife and perhaps friends etc would gather to have hot chocolate to smoke which is very common at this time and to engage in calm sation so an interesting biographical fact about the viceroy that speaks to this interesting historical moment is that his first wife was actually a descendant from the line of Montezuma the second who was the Aztec ruler who died during the Battle of Tenochtitlan during the Spanish conquest and so what's fascinating then is that that older royal lineage even though they were conquered remains important you see that throughout the Spanish Americas where indigenous peoples who can trace their lineage back to rulers are given certain benefits that other indigenous peoples are not it's complicated and it's hard to know where to situate the objects but that's also what makes it so exciting and engaging