Research: Luce Center for American Art

Religious Representations and Objects

For centuries, artists have been enlisted to create images to be used for devotional and ritual purposes in the practice of religion. In Western culture, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible have provided the major sources for religious narratives in painting and sculpture. Spanish colonies in South and North America were centers for the production of Catholic images that were usually made by native craftspeople and often included visual elements of indigenous belief systems. North America, settled by colonists of Protestant faiths, does not share such a rich heritage of religious art. Nevertheless, many nineteenth- and twentieth-century American artists have treated devotional themes, and the Museum’s collection has an abundance of such works. Figures of veneration—madonnas, angels, and saints—have been treated in both traditional and innovative ways. Modern artists have also explored non-Western belief systems in a search for universal values and spirituality.

18 objects are included in this theme.
00.158 William Ordway Partridge
A Madonna, ca. 1890

View object details...
04.300 Margaret Foley
Head of Prophet Zephaniah, 1868

View object details...
05.241 Hiram S. Powers
Eve, 1859-1860

View object details...
19.93 George de Forest Brush
Mother and Child: A Modern Madonna, 1919

View object details...
19.147 Thomas Ball
Head of Saint John, 1872

View object details...
30.1109 Bertram Hartman
Trinity Church and Wall Street, 1929

View object details...
40.212 American
Bread Plate (Continental Hall), 1876

View object details...
40.213 American
Bread Plate (Centennial), 1876

View object details...
40.237 American
Plate (Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper), late 19th century

View object details...
41.1251 Unknown
Wedding of Mary and Joseph, late 17th century

View object details...
45.10.130 Timothy Brigden
Chalice, 1815-1819

View object details...
48.76 Benjamin West
The Women at the Sepulchre (The Angel at the Tomb of Christ), 1805

View object details...
50.37 Alfeo Faggi
Christ in the Garden, 1949

View object details...
68.158.2 Abbott H. Thayer
My Children, ca. 1896-1910

View object details...
71.53 William Zorach
Cast of Original Model for "Wisdom of Solomon", ca. 1960; Cast in bronze 1963-1964

View object details...
80.191a-b Emma Stebbins
Samuel, 1868

View object details...
87.28 William Edmondson
Angel, n.d.

View object details...
1992.165.1 Beatrice Wood
Chalice, ca.1975

View object details...