Asa Ames (American, 1824–1851). Seated Figure with Lamb and Cup, 1850. Evans, Erie County, New York. Paint on yellow poplar. Bequest of Roscoe Nelson Gray in memory of Roscoe Nelson Dalton Gray and Rene Gabrielle Gray, 1978.3.

Folk artist Asa Ames excelled in figural carvings in wood, particularly of young children. This carving of a child and lamb evokes depictions of John the Baptist as a child, one arm holding the Lamb of God and a baptism bowl in the other. The spiritual connotation is fitting, since this statue probably served as a memorial to two young sisters who died in 1849. Such commemorative sculpture became popular in 1831 as a result of the rural cemetery movement. The movement aimed to create places of meditation, where citizens could escape the hectic pace of life in towns and cities. By combining art and nature, it was hoped that cemeteries would become idyllic places of retreat during an era when family members were far more likely than today to die young.

From Our Collection

1670, Murillo 1915, Redon Scully, 2008 Wesselmann, 1965

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