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Death Cart (Carreta de la Muerte)

c. 1880-1900
Artist/maker unknown, American
This powerful sculpture represents the art of the Penitente brotherhoods, religious groups that flourished in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado in the nineteenth century. Pulled in an Easter procession, this terrifying figure---skeletal, shrouded, and armed with a bow and arrow---warns of the constant presence of death and the perils awaiting an unprepared, unrepentant sinner.

The Death Cart belongs to the tradition of dramatic sculpture of Spain and Latin America. Working in a village far from metropolitan centers, the master who made this sculpture developed a personal style of unnerving naturalism and expressive abstraction.

Object Details

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