This highly finished preparatory study for a painting depicts a personification of the human soul in conflict as a female angel with bound hands and feet. Although Elihu Vedder rendered the figure’s idealized body as fettered and immobile, he suggested an active spiritual life through her attitude of contemplation, with head tilted back, eyes closed, and brow slightly furrowed.
Bound Angel exemplifies Vedder’s technical prowess as a draftsman, as well as his esoteric Symbolist subject matter. Symbolism emerged in turn-of-the-century literary and artistic circles as a movement that favored the exploration of emotional, spiritual, and imaginative themes over the representation of the real world (see also Kahlil Gibran’s drawing displayed nearby).
White chalk and black Conté crayon on bluish-green, moderately thick, slightly textured wove paper
sheet: 11 1/2 × 8 7/8 in. (29.2 × 22.5 cm)
frame: 20 3/8 × 15 3/8 × 1 3/4 in. (51.8 × 39.1 × 4.4 cm) (show scale)
Conjoined monogram and date lower right: "18 V 91"
Bequest of William H. Herriman
This item is not on view
Elihu Vedder (American, 1836-1923). Bound Angel, 1891. White chalk and black Conté crayon on bluish-green, moderately thick, slightly textured wove paper, sheet: 11 1/2 × 8 7/8 in. (29.2 × 22.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of William H. Herriman, 21.482 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 21.482_PS4.jpg)
overall, 21.482_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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