Skip Navigation

Death Cart

Los Hermanos Penitentes Society

Decorative Arts and Design

This sculpture is a smaller version of the death carts that were pulled by penitent brothers during Holy Week processions of the Los Hermanos Penitentes Society. Public processions reenacted the sorrow and suffering of Christ’s final days, with some penitent brothers practicing self-flagellation with whips and dragging large, heavy crosses and death carts. Here the female Angel of Death, Doña Sebastiana, serves as a reminder of human mortality and the importance of preparing for a good death through prayer and virtuous deeds.

Esta escultura es una versión más pequeña de las carretas de la muerte llevadas por los hermanos penitentes durante las procesiones de Semana Santa de la Sociedad de los Hermanos Penitentes. Procesiones públicas revivían la tristeza y el sufrimiento de los últimos días de Cristo, con algunos de los penitentes practicando autoflagelación con látigos, y arrastrando enormes y pesadas cruces, y carretas de la muerte. Aquí el ángel femenino de la Muerte, Doña Sebastiana, sirve como recordatorio de la mortalidad humana y de la importancia de prepararse para una buena muerte a través de plegarias y actos virtuosos.
MEDIUM Wood, hide, hair, pigment
DATES 1890-1910
DIMENSIONS 25 1/4 x 14 x 26 1/2 in. (64.1 x 35.6 x 67.3 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS "M922" is written in ink near the right hip socket and at the base of the cart handle. This number may be a Millicent Rogers Musuem number [N. Rosoff to confirm, 6/22/12].
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Carved wood skeleton of the female angel of death Dona Sebastiana with human hair and covered with gesso. The figure holds a bow and arrow in her hands and sits in a two wheeled cart made of cottonwood sticks lashed together with hide. A wooden axe sits inside the cart. Condition: good.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Los Hermanos Penitentes Society. Death Cart, 1890-1910. Wood, hide, hair, pigment, 25 1/4 x 14 x 26 1/2 in. (64.1 x 35.6 x 67.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 1997.70. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1997.70_transp5516.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1997.70_transp5516.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.