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The original plan for the Metropolitan Cathedral.

16th-century plan for Mexico City cathedral to be auctioned

Opening bids for the document will start at between 1.5 million and 2 million pesos

The original plan for the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, dated and signed in 1569, will be sold at auction.

The document is attributed to architect Claudio de Arciniega, who drew up the plan after the building’s construction was mandated by King Philip II of Spain.

Morton Auctions documents specialist Antonio Villa said the 450-year-old plan belongs to a private collector.

“Because of its importance, it has been shown in two exhibitions: one titled Medieval Spain and the Legacy of the West in 2005 in the National Museum of History, in Chapultepec Castle; and the other was the 2015 Michaelangelo exhibition in the Palace of Fine Arts titled An Artist Between Two Worlds,” he said.

Drawn on paper in sepia and grey ink, the historical plan bears the legend: “This is the drawing of the church cathedral that by order of his majesty will be built in this city.”

Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral, whose original architectural plan will be auctioned.
Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, whose original architectural plan will be auctioned.

Villa noted that “there are a few flaws, scratches, and folds that mark the document, as well as light humidity stains in the margins, for which it was restored in order to be shown in the exhibitions of 2005 and 2015.”

Morton Auctions said that given its documentary and historical importance, the architectural plan will have an opening price of 1.5 million to 2 million pesos (US $76,000-$101,000).

In the upper left hand corner of the 57 by 42-centimeter piece of paper is the signature of Secretary of the Inquisition of Mexico Pedro de los Ríos, and on the reverse, the signature of scribe and notary Sebastián Vázquez.

Villa noted that there were various attempts to build the cathedral, but the one that stands today was based on the plan that will be auctioned.

“The plan was modified in 1622, as it was originally designed to have four towers and they ended up only building two,” he said. “They wanted to build a lavish cathedral like the one in Seville, with seven naves, but the high cost and the muddy ground wouldn’t allow for it, so they ended up erecting a smaller church with five naves.”

The plan is one lot in an auction of travelers’ and explorers’ books and maps and other items to be sold by Morton Auctions in Mexico City on August 29.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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