JALISCO - Mexico

100 B.C. - 250 A.D.

  • Height : 58.5 cm
  • Width : 43 cm
  • Depth : 42 cm                                           

Hollow terracotta with a red, brown and beige coating.

Anthropomorphic sculpture representing a man in a resting posture, sitting cross-legged, the hands placed on the knees.

The naked figure, with his massive body, sits on the floor. The feet and toes are delicately modeled, the nails are engraved. The long legs are crossed, the right one put behind the left one. The calves are attired with bracelets made up of small, round beads. The sex is visible and depicted in relief. The groin folds are marked. The belly is lightly rounded and the navel is hollow. The rib cage is highlighted by a large incision and the pectoral muscles are salient. The trapeziuses and clavicles are strongly marked. The wide and angular shoulders are covered by beautiful pads made by pelletizing. The long and strong arms are lightly bent, and the hands rest on the knees. As for the feet, the hands are finely rendered: the fingers are delicately sculpted, incisions and reliefs evoke the joints and the nails are engraved. The head presents fine, realistic features. The broad mouth is half-open and shows the teeth. The sinusoidal folds are deeply marked: they underline the cheeks, emphasize the cheekbones and form a triangle that frames the mouth and nose. This one is long and aquiline. The almond-shaped eyes have heavy eyelids and the arches of the eyebrows are prominent. The big ears are salient and the lobes are pierced. A set of fine, parallel ridges suggests the hair.

This seated figure simply is a true masterpiece from the pre-Columbian art. He brings together all the elements that essentially make this art: notably the delicacy of features, the quality of execution, the richness of iconography, the variety of polychromies, the power of expression, and the impression of both strength and wisdom. Moreover, with its naturalistic aspect, its significant size and its amazing condition, this sculpture is among the most beautiful items from the Jalisco culture. It really is a unique and exceptional work.

The Jalisco culture develops in western Mexico, in the region matching the modern-day State of the same name, between 200 B.C. and 300 A.D. It belongs to the cultural group known as “West Coast”, of which the Colima and Nayarit cultures are also part. From an artistic point of view, the Jalisco culture mostly produced funerary ceramics representing figures in a both serene and expressive attitude, depicting sacred or daily-life scenes, captured in the very moment and showing a spontaneous quality.

Provenance: Ancient collection from Guy Joussemet since 1966; ancient collection from Yvon Collet; ancient collection from Monique Nordmann.

Exhibition: Ancient West Mexico: Art of the Unknown Past,The Art Institute of Chicago, from September 5th to November 22nd, 1998; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, from December 20th to March 29th, 1999.

Publication: TOWNSEND R. F. (dir.), Ancient West Mexico. Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1998, p. 2.