The detail of the native Americans in Pinturicchio

The detail of the native Americans in Pinturicchio's The Resurrection is so small that it is not visible in this image, which is just a central portion of a still larger painting.

Detail map of Città del Vaticano, Vatican City,Manteo, North Carolina, United States

A: Città del Vaticano, Vatican City, B: Manteo, North Carolina, United States

In Pinturicchio's "The Resurrection" May be the Earliest European Depiction of Native Americans

1494
<p>Detail of painting created in 1494 by Pinturicchio in the Vatican may be the earliest depiction of native Americans. The native Americans are visible just to the left of the face behind the open coffin from which Christ has risen. That is visible in the larger detail from the painting illustrating this database entry.</p>

Detail of painting created in 1494 by Pinturicchio in the Vatican may be the earliest depiction of native Americans. The native Americans are visible just to the left of the face behind the open coffin from which Christ has risen. That is visible in the larger detail from the painting illustrating this database entry.

In May 2013 art restorers at the Vatican completed the cleaning of a 15th century fresco by Bernardino di Betto, called Pinturicchio (Pintoricchio), entitled The Resurrection. After centuries of dirt and grime had been removed from the fresco commissioned by Pope Alexander VI, behind the depiction of the open tomb above which Christ had risen, a small depiction of native men wearing feather headresses and dancing became visible. One of the natives in the fresco appears to have a mohawk hairstyle.

The depiction of Native Americans in the painting, which is believed to have been completed in 1494, corresponds to Christopher Columbus's account of being greeted in the new world by dancing nude men painted black or red. In March 1493 Columbus returned to Spain from his first voyage to the New World, and news of his experiences rapidly spread throughout Europe. 

Prior to the discovery of the Pinturicchio image it was believed that the earliest surviving European depictions of Native Americans were those painted in the later 16th century by the British artist John White, governor of Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island. White's paintings are preserved in the print room of the British Museum.

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