Frederick Catherwood (1799–1854), United Kingdom
Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America—Chiapas and Yucatan, 1844
Portfolio of 25 hand-colored lithographs, edition of 300
Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Between 1839 and 1842, Frederick Catherwood traveled twice to Mexico and Central America with the explorer and archaeologist John Lloyd Stephens (1805–1852, United States). The pair wanted to scientifically prove the indigeneity of Mayan ruins and to dispel the popular myth that linked the culture’s genesis with the Old World. Catherwood and Stephens, as a result of their explorations, became the foremost authorities on Mayan culture and history. Although Catherwood claimed to depict the ruins objectively, his later works, such the 1844 portfolio Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, are filled with a romantic sentiment and betray his desire to emotionally connect with the Mexican indigenous population. By including vignettes of daily life surrounding the ruins, Catherwood strove to represent the Maya as integral to contemporary life in Mexico and Central America rather than as an extinct culture.