263. Stargazer

Mezcala, West Coast of Mexico, 700 BC–AD 300 
Size: 17.8 cm high
Hard stone

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He gazes into other worlds, the stars are just his guides, and what he sees we cannot know – we can only look with fascination at the enigma he presents. I first saw him illustrated in a Financial Times feature on upcoming exhibitions and, already amazed by a small photograph, I was delighted when I could acquire him. He came to me from Throckmorton Fine Arts in New York, one of the rare galleries that consistently puts on exhibitions that are diverse and interesting.

When I held the object my delight increased tenfold. What photographs did not show was the stone itself: a whorl of green and black on the back, becoming less dynamic at the front, with the head totally black, and equally inscrutable. In the exhibition of 2012 with Jean-Claude Ciancimino, I had another Stargazer, from Yugoslavia, as it once was, and dating from the 5th–6th century. Such Stargazers were placed on the graves of the great Barbarian chieftains, oriented towards the Pole Star. No such information exists about his Guerrero relation.

According to Spencer Throckmorton: ‘These enigmatic pre-Columbian objects were first uncovered in the late nineteenth century. However, it was the fascination with pre-Columbian artefacts in Mexico’s post-revolutionary era – stoked by such artists as Diego Rivera, Miguel Covarrubias, and William Spratling – when the many highly-stylized, stone carvings came pouring out of the poor provincial state of Guerrero.’

Provenance: Mid-Western Collection, USA
Throckmorton Fine Art, New York

An Examination Report by Frank Preusser & Associates, undertaken in 2015, is available.