Our Art / Désiré Charnay / Palace of the Nuns, Chichén Itzá

Palace of the Nuns, Chichén Itzá by Désiré Charnay

Palace of the Nuns, Chichén Itzá, 1882

Désiré Charnay

Three men stand in front of a magnificent Mayan palace. The building on the left is constructed in layers, each featuring a different ornamental motif, from geometric designs to plants, animals and deities. Serpent-gargoyles adorn the corners, and real trees sprout from various chinks in the stone, as the Mexican jungle slowly claims the structure. The photographer, Charnay, was a renegade explorer. His photographs would have electrified European viewers as their first view of Mayan architecture and iconography. In fact, these early images had a lasting impact on popular culture, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, to Indiana Jones, to the popular game Temple Run.

From the playlist
The Metropolitan Museum of Art