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 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.

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Credit
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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