3b. The object's fascinating first owner: Miguel Covarrubias (3/3)

PRE-COLUMBIAN ARCHAEOLOGIST - In 1940, Covarrubias returned to Mexico City and became a field-trained archaeologist as well as a celebrated artist, author, and illustrator. He supervised excavations, published books on early Mexican art, and penned an important chart showing the evolution of the jaguar motif from Olmec artifacts to later Maya and Aztec sculptures. In his later years, Covarrubias also directed the National Ballet of Mexico. Part of his large collection of Pre-Columbian art was sold by his wife, Rosa, shortly after Miguel's death in 1957. The Incised Standing Figure was sold from his collection via the dealer André Emmerich in New York to the Worcester Art Museum in 1958. Despite his visual skills, Covarrubias seems not to have deciphered the meaning of the incisions around the mouth of the figure; it entered the museum collection labeled simply as Standing Male Personage.

Image: Fig. 22 Chart showing “Olmec” influence on evolution of the jaguar mask into rain gods (Chaac, Tajín, Tlaloc, Cosijo) and of rain-god vase (Early Monte Albán, Teotihuacán, Aztec), Miguel Covarrubias, Indian Art of Mexico and Central America (New York: Knopf, 1957).

Next: 4. Why does the object look the way it does?
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