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When you visit the Brooklyn Museum, you can use our app to ask us questions or chat about the artwork you see.

You’ll be connected with a team of art historians and educators who know our collection, can answer your questions, and can give you recommendations on what to see next. 

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Explore our permanent collection or a special exhibition on a guided group tour led by one of our friendly and experienced Museum Guides, or on your own with a self-guided group tour. These tours are for adult groups with at least 10 people, last about one hour, and can be tailored to meet the interests and needs of your group.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

We're renovating our second floor to bring you a better experience, which means the Libraries and Archives are closed to the public until fall 2017. If you're a researcher who would like to access our resources, send us an email and we'll do our best to assist you.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the Fifth Floor

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the Fourth Floor

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the Third Floor

Also on the Third Floor: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Our Second Floor galleries are currently closed for renovations.

Also on the Second Floor

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk on the first floor.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Parking
Parking is available in the lot behind the Museum, off Washington Avenue. On Target First Saturdays, there's a flat rate of $6 starting at 5 p.m. Park your bicycle in the rack behind the building, next to our sculpture garden.

Shopping
Our Shop offers an eclectic mix of gifts, jewelry, books, clothing, crafts, and foods from around Brooklyn and around the world. Shop hours

Dining
Have small plates, dinner, or drinks at The Norm restaurant and bar, led by Michelin-starred Chef Saul Bolton. Or stop by the BKM Café or Bowl. Planning a group tour? Consider a catered lunch for your group.

Rest Rooms
Rest rooms are on the first and third floors (floor plan), are wheelchair accessible, and have baby-changing tables. A family rest room is located just off the main lobby.

Coat Check
A free coat check is available on the first floor, where you can leave any packages, large bags, umbrellas, or strollers.

Wheelchairs
Complimentary wheelchairs are available at the coat check on the first floor. Our entrances and rest rooms are wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our Accessibility page.

Strollers
You're welcome to use strollers throughout the building (although from time to time there are certain areas where we might need to restrict their use, on account of small spaces, especially fragile art, or other circumstances). If necessary, leave your stroller at the coat check.

Wireless Access
We offer free wireless access throughout our galleries and grounds. During your visit, we encourage you to switch to wifi (BrooklynMuseum) for faster download speeds. The wireless project was created by the Brooklyn Museum Technology Department, with help from NYCWireless.

Go Mobile
Need information on the go? Planning your next visit? Access www.brooklynmuseum.org from your mobile phone to view our mobile-friendly website.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

We're committed to making our galleries and facilities accessible to everyone.

  • We are fully wheelchair accessible. Check our online and printed floor plan for details.
  • If you need a wheelchair during your visit, they're available for free at the coat check in the lobby.
  • Companions of people with disabilities are admitted for free.
  • The parking lot behind the Museum is fully accessible. There's a free, 15-minute grace period for pickups and dropoffs.
  • If you need an assistive-listening device, they're available for free at our Admissions Desk, on the first floor.

We also offer a wide range of services for our visitors of all ages with special needs.

  • For those who have low or no vision, guided visits that include verbal descriptions can be scheduled for both adult and school groups, with advance notice. We also offer Sensory Tours, monthly public tours designed to accommodate and engage both sighted and non-sighted visitors. Verbal descriptions of collection highlights are available via Art Beyond Sight.
  • For those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, American Sign Language interpretation for both adult and school group tours can be arranged, with advance notice.
  • For those with intellectual disabilities or other special needs, we offer specially tailored guided gallery visits to adult and school groups.

We hope that you'll get in touch with us via email or at 718.501.6229 if you have questions about any of the above services, or if you'd like to make advance arrangements.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

No matter what your interest, there's a tour for you:

  • Join our Museum Guides for daily public tours (free with admission) focusing on a variety of themes, eras, and movements in art.
  • Book a group tour for ten or more adults.
  • Explore tours and programs for school groups, all designed to help students and teachers construct meaningful experiences with works of art.
ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

Exhibitions on the First Floor

Also on the First Floor

  • Admissions Desk
  • Museum Shop
  • Dining (The Norm restaurant and bar; BKM Café and Bowl)

Rest rooms are on the first, second, and third floors; those on the first and third floors are wheelchair accessible. The second-floor rest rooms can be reached only via the stairs from the Schapiro Wing on the third floor. Water fountains are near the first- and third-floor rest rooms.

Pick up Assistive Listening Devices at the Admissions Desk.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

By Subway

2/3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum. Transfer to 2/3 from 4/5 (at Nevins Street) and B, D, Q, N, R, and LIRR (at Atlantic Terminal-Barclays Center). See a subway map. Make sure to check with the MTA for any service changes, especially on the weekend.


By Bus

The closest bus stops are:

B41 and B69 at Grand Army Plaza

B45 at St. Johns Place and Washington Avenue

Check with the MTA for the most up-to-date bus information.


By Car

From Manhattan:

Brooklyn Bridge; left at Tillary Street; right on Flatbush Avenue for about 1.5 miles to Grand Army Plaza; about 2/3 around Plaza; right on Eastern Parkway. We're at the first intersection (Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue). Or: Manhattan Bridge enters directly onto Flatbush Avenue.

From Westchester, the Bronx, Queens, or Connecticut:

Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (Triborough) to Brooklyn Queens Express (BQE); Manhattan Bridge exit to Tillary Street; left onto Flatbush Avenue and proceed according to the directions from Manhattan.

From Staten Island and southern or central New Jersey:

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Gowanus Expressway (Route 278 towards Manhattan); exit to 38th Street; left on Fourth Avenue for about 2 miles; right on Union Street; 5 blocks to Grand Army Plaza; go 1/2 around Plaza; right on Eastern Parkway. We're at first intersection (Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue).

From northern or north central New Jersey:

George Washington Bridge/Holland or Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan; follow directions from Manhattan.

From Long Island:

Grand Central Parkway to Jackie Robinson Parkway; exit at Bushwick Avenue; left at third traffic light to Eastern Parkway; about 3 miles to Washington Avenue. We're across intersection at left.


Parking

On-site parking is available in the lot behind the Museum, off Washington Avenue. On Target First Saturdays there's a flat rate of $5 beginning at 5 p.m.


Bikes

Park your bicycle at the racks behind the Museum, next to the Sculpture Garden. Bikes are parked at your own risk; we don't accept responsibility for vandalism or theft.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.

ASK Brooklyn Museum Bloomberg Philanthropies

Here's what people are asking.

Why is there such a broad time period here? (1200-1500)
Actually, dating that piece to a 300-year time period isn't a broad time period for that culture since these objects were used over a very long time period and were made in such a similar way throughout time, that they are hard for curators and scholars to put an exact date on them. The dates are generally attributed to the time period when the culture flourished. 
The older the object, the more broad the time period possibilities might be. If you look in the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian collections, you'll see that some pieces have date ranges of 800-1,000 years!
How were people able to breathe or see when wearing this?
The wearer could through the barkcloth mask, which is thin and porous
Wow, it would have been hard while dancing!
The wearer's face would actually be behind where the painted face was. They would have been able to breathe, but visibility would be very low since the bark cloth really only lets in light. I would imagine that this would have been very uncomfortable to dance in, yes! Did you read on the label that the masks are made for the specific ceremony? We don't exactly know who wore the mask, but it is likely a male relative of the deceased.
Yes. And it's interesting that this was a year after death. Was it annual or just the first anniversary only?
After looking through notes, I found a bit of a dated anthropological source (from 1979 so I am not sure how reliable this is), but it seems to imply that the ceremonies were/are held for specific individuals, and just once to allow for the spirit of the dead to say farewell to the community. To me, this seems to imply that once the person is gone, they are gone, so you would only have the ceremony once.
That's really interesting. It's different from other cultures like Judaism where you light a candle every year.
Did the artist actually know how to play the violin?
I wonder if Stacy Tolman actually could play the violin! The person he depicts playing the cello is actually Bicknell, an artist who was a friend of Tolman and also a talented cellist, so if Tolman could not actually play the violin, he is putting himself in good company!
Who would have used this? Was it sold commercially?
While we don't have any information on previous owners, we do know that it was made during the machine age (i.e. mass produced) by the Lloyd Manufacturing company, so yes, it would have been sold commercially.
How much do you think it cost?
I am finding that most of Weber’s chairs and other pieces for Lloyd were priced in the $20 to $140 range, making them accessible to the broad middle-class market.
Are these beauty marks?
Yes, they are! Beginning in the late sixteenth century, fashionable men and women imitated natural beauty marks by sticking black beauty patches on their faces. These patches were sometimes used to send signals to members of the opposite sex in flirtatious courtship rituals, but they had a practical use as well. They could be applied to hide blemishes and scars on the face, especially the deep round scars left on those who survived the frequent outbreaks of smallpox.
I love how we can see the history of fashion in this painting, and how the concept of what is beautiful changes so much.
For example, beauty patches went out of style shortly after 1796, when a cure was found for small pox.
Fascinating! Adds a lot to the perception of the piece.
How is the iconography/style of this work typical of the early Renaissance movement?
What a great question! You can see that this painting incorporates a silver and gold background, typical of earlier Medieval and early Renaissance religious painting. The basic pose of the Mother embracing her son with his arm tugging at her neck goes back to Byzantine icons (or Christian images). However, unlike Medieval and earlier pictorial conventions, this painting depicts highly three-dimensional figures in a slightly more naturalistic style. This painting shows not only the graceful linear forms that characterize Sienese painting (like in the outline of the Madonna's cloak), but also the powerful effect of Florentine realism in the pliant muscularity of the Child and the sense of observed reality in the head of the Madonna.
Something to note is that Sano’s workshop was the principal source in Siena for devotional images of the Madonna and Child.
Interesting. And then it continues the medieval style of having similar facial expressions on the figures depicted?
Yes, the facial expressions are still pretty static, especially when you compare them to later Renaissance painting.
I find the contrast of the colors between the Virgin's cloak and Christ's skin so striking. It really gives the figures a sense of otherworldliness.
I did too. It's almost as if the natural folds that occur in Mary's clothing are consumed by the black color, while the vivid white folds are very clear for Christ.
Yes, I totally agree.
Is there any significance to the depiction of the child Jesus with more fat on his body? Historically, we know that he was born to the working class, so it is a little unrealistic to have that much fat as a child.
The figures are idealized, especially Christ, emphasizing his divinity. But the Christ child is not particularly fat, rather his body type recalls the way children were shown in antique sculpture. In the Renaissance painters and sculptors were interested in ancient sculpture as models.
That sort of harkens back to the Gospel of John and the early medieval styles of the Throne of Wisdom, which is stark contrast with the later popularity of the Pieta.
Actually in this painting the Madonna is seated on a cushion, signaling modesty, while at the same time the Madonna is seen as the Queen of Heaven in terms of her expensive and beautiful blue robe. And Michelangelo's Pieta certainly evokes a very different approach to piety focusing on emotion and expression.
It almost reminds of a piece in the Egyptian exhibit where a mother holds her son (a future king in her lap) and they face different directions. It's almost as if this painting signals a unity between mother and child, and the Egyptian sculpture shows one a caring but coarse relationship.
That's nuts! I was just about to refer you to Pepy II in the Egyptian galleries for the very same reason! It shows the King seated on the lap of his mother. The two are facing different directions, giving both authority by creating two different frontal views. It's on the third floor.
Yes, that's exactly the one I was speaking of! I just couldn't remember the name.
It is argued by a few scholars that the iconography of Christ seated on the Madonna's lap was inspired by the Egyptians, particularly the Maria Lactans (the Madonna breast feeding the Child) seen in Egyptian iconography of the Goddess Isis.
That's very interesting, especially insofar as the flight to Egypt is considered in the Gospels.
What is happening here?
We know that Aaron Gilbert was inspired by the birth of his own son, and that the woman is modeled on his wife. Perhaps the artist may want us to think about cycles of life and age. Other people find this painting very enigmatic and intriguing. What do you think of it?
I think it's a woman giving her kid a bath.
That's definitely a solid reading of it! As a contemporary work of art, it is absolutely up to interpretation.
Is this the original frame?
Thanks for your question. It is indeed the original frame, designed by O'Keeffe.
This is a really evocative piece. O'Keeffe would collect bones, rocks and other findings from her walks in New Mexico for these paintings. She was also very adamant about not explaining her work to other people and she didn't like to discuss what different things symbolized in her art. So, you're free to make your own interpretations. If you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, please do!
Are these sculptures of the same person?
I see you're looking at Metjetji, all of these sculptures were made to represent different points in his life, the statue with the long white kilt shows the fashion of a senior official, and his torso shows the signs of aging as well.
Ahhhhh ok. Thank you
Egyptian art is extremely stylized, and the way that people were depicted wasn't to show what they actually looked like, but to give a sense of their position and role in society. As you can see, all three figures have the same exact pose, standing men were often shown this way throughout Ancient Egypt, with their left foot forward. This changed drastically in the later dynasties when Egypt was under Roman rule. Then, portraits attempted extremely accurate depictions of their subjects, in the middle gallery next to the one you're in (with the ceiling mural) you'll see several of these really striking Roman portraits.
Do you know what kind of flower the woman is holding, and if it has some symbolism?
Hello! Thank you for trying the ASK app today. That is a very interesting question re: the flower. I think you are the first person to ask. One moment while we look through our curatorial notes and see if we can find an answer for you. Feel free to walk around that room while we research!
Great, thanks again.
Thank you for waiting! We cannot find anything in our notes about this particular flower (i.e., what type of flower it is and if that particular flower had symbolism due to the type/color/etc.). However, we do have a few sources that discuss women in colonial portraiture holding flowers as a symbol of everything from fertility (i.e., she is a young woman of marriageable age at this point) to the fleeting nature of life and age (i.e., she is in the prime of her life, but like a flower, will eventually wither), to hobby interests (i.e., the woman being painted may have been an avid gardener!).
Apologies for such a very broad answer, but thank you for giving us a new question to research!
No, it's great! Thanks
ASK App ASK Team

Curious about how we developed ASK Brooklyn Museum? The project team is blogging regularly on BKM Tech, and we've open sourced our code on Github.