Raphaèle Preisinger-Winkler: The Destruction of the Idols and the Emergence of the Christian Cult Image in New Spain

The Destruction of the Idols and the Emergence of the Christian Cult Image in New Spain: Framing Sacred Objects in the Age of Early European Expansion

Señor de Esquipulas, Basílica del Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, Guatemala, 22.01.2014 (photograph: Raphaèle Preisinger)

This research project focuses on the mobility and transformation of conceptions of the image with respect to the Christian cult images implemented by the colonizers in New Spain during the early colonial era. Previous research has neglected to sufficiently point out the complex processes of circulation, connectivity and cultural entanglements that are at the base of their creation. A series of case studies will analyze the production of Christian cult images, the specific features of their veneration, and the legendary traditions surrounding them. Among the Christian cult images introduced by the missionaries, whose veneration can be traced back to the sixteenth century, are the most important Christian cult image of the entire American continent, the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City, a number of so-called Cristos negros, which are widespread throughout Mesoamerica to this day, and the image of the Niñopa, which has been venerated in the Franciscan convent of San Bernardino de Sena in Xochimilco since the sixteenth century (Mexico City today).

Santa María de Guadalupe, Real Monasterio de Guadalupe, Spain, 14.08.2014 (photograph: Raphaèle Preisinger)

Raphaèle Preisinger received her PhD in Art History in 2009 from the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (dissertation directors: Prof. Hans Belting and Prof. Gerhard Wolf). She was a postdoctoral Research Assistant (wissenschaftliche Assistentin) at the Institute for Art History at the University of Bern in Switzerland until February 2016 and has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Gerda Henkel Foundation since then. She maintains a major focus on image and piety in the Middle Ages and has co-edited the volume Bild und Körper im Mittelalter (Wilhelm Fink: 2006, 2nd edition 2008). The title of her first book is Lignum vitae. Zum Verhältnis materieller Bilder und mentaler Bildpraxis im Mittelalter (Wilhelm Fink: 2014). Her current research interests center on the interaction between Latin America, Europe and Asia in the early modern period. She is an Associated Junior Fellow with the Walter Benjamin Kolleg at the University of Bern and is preparing a habilitation on “The Destruction of the Idols and the Emergence of the Christian Cult Image in New Spain: Framing Sacred Objects in the Age of Early European Expansion”.


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