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Dancing Men in Renaissance Painting May Be Native Americans

Friday, May 03, 2013


VATICAN CITY—While restoring a fresco painted in 1494 by Pinturicchio on the walls of the Vatican’s Borgia Apartments, Maria Pustka found small images of dancing men that may be the first Western depictions of Native Americans. “The Borgia Pope was interested in the New World, as were the great chancelleries of Europe. It is hard to believe that the papal court, especially under a Spanish pope, would have remained in the dark about what Columbus encountered,” wrote Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums. That pope would eventually arbitrate the division of New World lands between Spain and Portugal.