Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin

Birth: 1802


Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin (July 18, 1802, Tourrettes - July 7, 1891, Callian) is an Americanist paleographer and collector. During a ten-year stay in Mexico (1830-1840), he collected a vast collection of manuscripts and drawings, many of which belonged to Lorenzo Boturini. Redeemed in large part by Eugène Goupil who donated it to the BnF, it constitutes the bulk of the Mexican fund of this institution.

He was co-founder in 1857 of the American Society of France, first attempt to establish a society of Americanists in France, and was a member of the Scientific Commission of Mexico (1864-1867), history, linguistics, archeology committee. He moved to Paris in 1812. He is interested in drawing and mathematics and joined in 1816 the School of Fine Arts. He then entered the normal boarding school, from which he graduated in 1822. He taught in the high schools of Sens and Auxerre, and was appointed in 1826 director of the science section of the Preparatory School.

In 1830, he left France under the auspices of Arago and Thenard to undertake research in physics and astronomy, but was immediately fascinated by the remains and archaeological objects and documents of a culture that was much more refined than he did not imagine it. As well as he was unfortunately deprived of his scientific instruments, he decided to devote himself to archaeological and historical research, and soon, faced with the abundance of manuscripts and drawings, to historical research based on these documents. He learns for that the Nahuatl.

He has sufficient financial resources, which he maintains by becoming a time preceptor of the sons of the general Jose Morán then founding a private high school in Mexico. In a troubled period when Mexican high society is mainly concerned with politics, it is almost the only wealthy man of manuscripts and meets with little competition in its purchases; it is thus constituted a consequent collection. He acquired his first manuscripts and paintings of the descendants of the astronomer Antonio de Leon y Gama.

Nevertheless, in spite of these abundant sources at his disposal for the study of the Mexican history, he will produce little research and will jealously guard his private collection, which he carries almost illegally when he leaves Mexico in 1840 He seems to begin to suffer from paranoia and will isolate himself more and more to become at the end of his life an old man of bizarre and neglected appearance, defying with respect to everything and everyone.

He is nevertheless asked - but not among the first - to be a member of the Scientific Commission of Mexico (1864-1867), whose mission was to prepare and follow the progress of the scientific mission accompanying the military expedition started in 1861. He is reserved, suspicious, disorganized, without charisma and undiplomatic, giving such a negative report on the work of some Mexican correspondents that Doutrelaine, principal correspondent in Mexico, is forced to pray the Minister of Education to remind the members of the Committee of the importance of not discouraging Mexican collaborators.

In 1889, he finally sold his collection to Eugène Goupil through Eugène Boban who wrote the catalog, in which he included a biography of JMA Aubin. According to the Americanist Daniel Garrison Brinton, he would have resolved after losing a lot of money in the Panama scandal.

He published [1] Memoire sur la peinture didactique et l'ecriture figurative des anciens Mexicains; [2] Histoire de la nation mexicaine... Manuscrit figuratif accompagne de texte en langue nahuatl ou mexicaine, suivi d'une traduction en français par feu J.-M.-A. Aubin. Reproduction du codex de 1576... (publiee par Eugène Boban.); [3] Examen des anciennes peintures figuratives de l'ancien Mexique, (publiee par E. Leroux)

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