Pieta

  • Malcah Zeldis, Pieta, 1973, oil on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.159

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Many artists have immortalized the image of Mary holding the dead body of Jesus. Malcah Zeldis is a devout Jewish woman and finds it difficult to explain why she painted this Christian scene: “All I can say is that it was done after I attended a wedding which moved me very deeply. Somehow, very strong feelings were stirred up” (Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., and Julia Weissman, Twentieth-century American Folk Art and Artists, 1974). Zeldis painted stark contrasts throughout the image to heighten the emotional impact of the scene: Leafless trees reach into the sky like the arms of the crucified, and white clouds fly across the top of the painting like messengers between heaven and earth.

Title
Pieta
Artist
Date
1973
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
26 x 22 in. (66.0 x 55.9 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on fiberboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Religion – New Testament – Crucifixion
  • Religion – New Testament – Mary
  • Animal – bird – buzzard
  • Religion – New Testament – Christ
  • Animal – donkey
  • State of being – emotion – sorrow
Object Number
1986.65.159
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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