Soul in Bondage
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The United States on the World Stage, 1865–1930
In this brooding Symbolist subject titled Soul in Bondage, the American expatriate Elihu Vedder brought together his key interests in idealized human form, abstracted design, and the themes of internal spiritual conflict. Profoundly inspired by the writer Edward Fitzgerald's translation of mystical Persian verse in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Vedder illustrated a lush 1884 edition), he created numerous subjects representing the individual bound by the dilemma of choice between good and evil symbolized here by the butterfly and the serpent. Behind the figure Vedder employed his signature "double swirl," a motif he had used repeatedly in the Rubáiyát illustrations to suggest the forces that converge and then disperse around the brief point that constitutes an individual human life.
Oil on canvas
37 13/16 x 24 in. (96.1 x 60.9 cm)
frame: 53 1/8 x 39 1/8 x 3 3/8 in. (134.9 x 99.4 x 8.6 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower right: "ELIHU VEDDER/ ROMA/ 1891"; signed lower left: (inititial in monogram): "V"
Gift of Mrs. Harold G. Henderson
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. 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
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Elihu Vedder (American, 1836-1923). Soul in Bondage, 1891-1892. Oil on canvas, 37 13/16 x 24 in. (96.1 x 60.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harold G. Henderson, 47.74 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 47.74_SL1.jpg)
overall, 47.74_SL1.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.
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.