Depiction of a ritual sacrifice carried out by the 16th century Emperor of Mexico, Montezuma. The emperor stands on a rocky summit wearing a ceremonial headdress and watching smoke arise from a fire. Scattered around him in the foreground are piles of dead bodies.
Montezuma 1914 Charles Ricketts 1866-1931 Oil on canvas Montezuma was Emperor of Mexico from 1502 to 1520. He was conquered by the Spanish under Cortez. Perhaps Ricketts was not being completely honest when he claimed that his picture should only be taken at face value: My picture merely represents Montezuma sacrificing to the sun… on one occasion 13,000 victims were sacrificed by Montezuma in three consecutive days. My aim is to convey an impression of brutality and magnificence The symbolism of pointless sacrifice with the prospect of eventual defeat is hard to ignore. Although we do not know exactly when in 1914 Montezuma was painted, it seems likely that it was after the start of the First World War. Purchased 1915.1
unframed: 104cm x 88.8cm
framed: 139.6cm x 124.2cm
Place of creation
© Manchester Art Gallery