West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture
To be lost and found at sea: What kinds of thinking does the shipwreck prompt? This essay pursues this question by centering fragmented remains—large beeswax blocks and Chinese porcelain ware—from the Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Spanish galleon lost while traveling from Manila to Acapulco at the end of the seventeenth century. By considering how durable commodities were recovered and reimagined, primarily by Indigenous inhabitants of the Oregon coast, this essay reflects upon the kinds of histories that can be written around and because of wrecked ships. Tacking between past and present, we use the Santo Cristo de Burgos to draw out the lineaments of a shipwreck’s art history, bringing into focus three interrelated themes, each critical to the material histories of wrecks: the interpretive recalcitrance of cargo, the reframing of value through recovery, and the production of material surplus in the watery depths.
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Hyman, Aaron M. and Leibsohn, Dana, "Lost and Found at Sea, or a Shipwreck’s Art History" (2021). Art: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.