CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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The Table is Set, Dinner is Served. The Cannibals of Hans Holbein's Novus Orbis Regionum, 1532.

Session 9 Autonomy and Elusion

Universidad Nacional de Colombia


The geographical maps of the sixteenth century can be organized in two large groups. The first, composed of more exact maps, made to give precise, practical information to sailors, travelers, strategists and the military. The second group, maps more beautifully decorated, with vignettes of episodes, drawings and paintings, made for visual pleasure and to be consumed by an educated, humanist elite interested in voyages and tales of the same. These maps could circulate as loose pages or in books. With the invention of the press and the sophistication of techniques, engravings gradually modified the dissemination of cartographic knowledge, making it possible to reproduce in large quantities, in less time and at reduced costs, expanding the range of coverage and the quantity of individuals that consumed them. This text will address a case study of the second group of maps.In 1532 Hans Holbein would publish the map Novus Orbis Regionum, with a vignette that represents the cannibals of the New World in the lower section of said map. These scenes about cannibals would be the most complex carried out by German cartography up to that moment, surpassing previous works by Martin Waldseemüller and Lorenz Fries.


Full Professor at the Department of History, College of Human and Economic Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín. Holding a PhD and MA in History from the Universidade Federal Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), B.A in History from the Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá, Colombia) and A.A in Cinematography from the Universidade Estácio de Sá (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Currently, Dean of the College of Human and Economic Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín. Director and Senior Investigator of the History, Work, Society and Culture group, A1 Category in Colciencias (Colombian Government’s Department of Science, Technology and Innovation). Member of the Departmental Patrimony Council of Antioquia.

Among his main investigations we find: The colonial paintings of Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos (seventeenth century), the representation of the Native American in European visual arts of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and the Iconography of the Independence (nineteenth century). Author of Imágenes de Caníbales y Salvajes del Nuevo Mundo. De lo maravilloso medieval a lo exótico colonial Siglos XV-XVII (2013) (Images of Cannibals and Savages of the New World. From the marvelous medieval to the exotic colonial fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, 2013)andLa Independencia en el Arte y el Arte en la Independencia((Independence in Art and Art in Independence) from the colección Biblioteca Bicentenario del Ministerio de Educación Nacional (2009), (Bicentennial Library Collection of the National Ministry of Education, 2009), among others. Has written several articles in national and international magazines, numerous chapters in books and participated in multiple national and international academic.