Skip Navigation

Modern Madonna

Bessie Potter Vonnoh

American Art

Like her contemporary Mary Cassatt, Bessie Potter Vonnoh favored young children and their mothers as subjects. In this bronze, a mother gazes fondly at the infant she holds close to her heart. Although the work is secular and contemporary in conception, both the theme and Vonnoh's title refer to one of the most powerful traditional religious images. Vonnoh's appealing groups of women and infants, small in scale and delicately modeled, found great favor with the public, particularly after an exhibition of her work at the Brooklyn Museum in 1913 brought her wider public recognition.

  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES 1904
    DIMENSIONS 15 1/8 x 15 x 8 1/2 in., 19 lb. (38.4 x 38.1 x 21.6 cm, 8.62kg)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Foundry mark inscribed on proper right side of base at back: "Roman Bronze Works N.Y."
    SIGNATURE Inscribed along proper left side of base, towards the back: "Bessie Potter Vonnoh. 1904 Copyright No 111"
    COLLECTIONS American Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the artist
    PROVENANCE April 10, 1913, gift of the artist to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Statuette of half-length figure of a woman holding a baby, forms a pyramidal composition; mother holds baby so that it faces frontally and has its infant's head pressed against her proper left cheek; she wears dress with dropped collar and full drapery folds, her hair is gathered into loose bun at top of her head; infant grabs its mother's hand and wears a long dress. Condition: Good, some greenish corrosion in crevices of drapery.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Bessie Potter Vonnoh (American, 1872–1955). Modern Madonna, 1904. Bronze, 15 1/8 x 15 x 8 1/2 in., 19 lb. (38.4 x 38.1 x 21.6 cm, 8.62kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist, 13.1062. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 13.1062_front_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 13.1062_front_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
    "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.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    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.