The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court

[ Pre Columbian Studies ]

The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court

Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak

By Mary Ellen Miller and Claudia Brittenham

Lavishly produced with foldout images of a major new full-color scale reconstruction of the Bonampak murals, as well as hundreds of photographs and infrared images, many never before published, this landmark in book publishing is the most thorough and thought-provoking study of one of the masterpieces of New World art.

July 2013

$75.00$50.25

33% website discount price

Hardcover

11 x 13 | 288 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-74436-3

View the full insert here.

Located within the deep tropical rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico, the Maya site of Bonampak is home to the most complete and magnificent mural program of the ancient Americas. In three rooms, a pageant of rulership opens up, scene by scene, like pages of an ancient Maya book. Painted c. AD 800, the murals of Bonampak reveal a complex and multifaceted view of the ancient Maya at the end of their splendor during the last days of the Classic era. Members of the royal court engage in rituals and perform human sacrifice, dance in extravagant costumes and strip the clothing from fallen captives, acknowledge foreign nobles, and receive abundant tribute. The murals are a powerful and sophisticated reflection on the spectacle of courtly life and the nature of artistic practice, a window onto a world that could not know its doomed future.

This major new study of the paintings of Bonampak incorporates insights from decades of art historical, epigraphic, and technical investigation of the murals, framing questions about artistic conception, facture, narrative, performance, and politics. Lavishly illustrated, this book assembles thorough documentation of the Bonampak mural program, from historical photographs of the paintings—some never before published—to new full-color reconstructions by artist Heather Hurst, recipient of a MacArthur award, and Leonard Ashby. The book also includes a catalog of photographs, infrared images, and line drawings of the murals, as well as images of all the glyphic texts, which are published in their entirety for the first time. Written in an engaging style that invites both specialists and general readers alike, this book will stand as the definitive presentation of the paintings for years to come.

  • List of Tables
  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface, by Mary Miller
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Artistic Conception
    • Principles
    • Program
    • Planning and Execution
  • Chapter 3. The Story in the Murals
    • Sequence
    • Text and Image
    • Crowded Courts, Absent Kings
  • Chapter 4. Time, Motion, and Performance
    • Performing Victory in Room 2
    • The Performative Now in Room 1
    • Dance, Performance, and Death in Room 3
  • Chapter 5. Art and Politics
    • Art and Collapse
    • The Disintegrating Usumacinta
    • After the Fall
  • Chapter 6. Conclusion
  • Catalog
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Mary Miller is Dean of Yale College and Sterling Professor of the History of Art at Yale University. One of the world’s foremost experts on Maya art, she is the author of Art of Meosamerica and coauthor of Blood of Kings (with Linda Schele) and The Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya (with Simon Martin). In 2010 she delivered the 59th A. W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art. Miller is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of many national awards and fellowships.

Claudia Brittenham is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. She is a coauthor of Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color and the author of a forthcoming book on the murals of Cacaxtla, Mexico.

"The book is lavishly illustrated, and the photographic record within is invaluable. The latter part of the book consists of an extensive catalogue of color and infrared images as well as large-scale color reproductions of the reconstruction paintings, presented as inserts. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
―J.J. Borowicz, Mercyhurst University, Choice magazine

Miller, The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court

Mary Ellen Miller speaks about her landmark study of the Bonampak murals.
Series: The University of Texas Press Podcasts

Author: | Date: Monday, 22 July 2013 | Duration: 16:44

Lavishly produced with foldout images of a major new full-color scale reconstruction of the Bonampak murals, as well as hundreds of photographs and infrared images, many never before published, this landmark in book publishing is the most thorough and thought-provoking study of one of the masterpieces of New World art.

Get the book.