Daniela Bleichmar is Assistant Professor of Art History and History at the University of Southern California. Her book Visible Empire: Colonial Botany and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment will be published in March.
 (February 2012)

Latin America: The Battleground of Art

Our Lady of Cocharcas Under the Baldachin (detail); eighteenth-century Peruvian painting, artist unknown
Soon after disembarking on the Gulf coast of Mexico in February 1519, Hernán Cortés met with ambassadors of the Aztec emperor Moctezuma. The diplomatic gifts that they gave him—which included a heavy gold disk as big as a cartwheel, a massive silver circle, and enough gold pellets to fill up …