Brooklyn Museum Collections

Made with wood and copper alloy, the woman in the sculpture has bulging eyes and a “pointed base (“Figure of a Mother Holding a Child”). ” According to the Brooklyn Museum, the base was most probably “thrust into a pot containing earth and various bishimba, or materials of mineral, plant, animal, or human origin endowed with protective powers (“Figure of a Mother Holding a Child”). ” In actuality, the sculpture had been created for a Lulua woman who had experienced difficulties in childbirth. The Lulua people believed that it was the evil spirit which interrupted the process of childbirth for women.

So that the woman would attract the ancestral spirit of the Lulua tribe and get rid of the evil spirit, the artist gave her the sculpture to care for until delivery. The bulging eyes of the sculpture reveal that the woman is aware of the influence of the evil spirit that is stopping her from becoming a mother (“Lulua Tribe”). The Lulua peoples had migrated from western Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo during the eighteenth century. These people lived in “small regional chiefdoms,” and therefore formed closely knit communities (“Lulua Tribe”). Because they were immigrants, they were rather concerned about their continuity.

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Moreover, the Lulua people believed that their sculptures had to be created for religious reasons (“Lulua Tribe”). The Lulua artists who created sculptures such as the Figure of a Mother Holding a Child must have had faith that they were carrying out their moral duty toward their own people. Indeed, the religious values of the Lulua people were guarded by their art. Sculptures of females were quite popular among them, as these figures exemplified “the union of physical and moral beautify (“Figurative Sculpture”). ” The Lulua people believed in equating proper behavior with physical beauty (“Figurative Sculpture”).

It can be inferred that the Figure of a Mother Holding a Child and all other sculptures created for the same reason were reminders for the Lulua people that the human body cannot be separated from morality. This principle is clearly exemplified by the bond between mother and child. Conclusion We focused on the political conditions surrounding the artist of Wedding of Mary and Joseph. Societal context of Renoir’s painting, Acrobats At The Cirque Fernando, was explored with a brief overview of gender relations in 19th century Paris. This study may have been conducted with historical information gleaned through novels, too.

Finally, the cultural context of Figure of a Mother Holding a Child was explored. Although this discussion was centered on political, societal and cultural contexts of three works of art, it was clarified as part of the discussion that an artwork may be appreciated in any number of ways. There are countless theories and innumerable stories about the history of mankind. What is more, every piece of artwork tells a tale about the space and time of its artist alone. The work lives on as students of art and historians delve into paintings over and again. Any number of assumptions could be made about the situational context of an artwork thus.

Perhaps, therefore, it is reasonable to state that a work of art has as many minds as interpreters as the number of people that consider the artwork through the passage of time. Moreover, only assumptions can be made about the situational context of an artwork. History is best left to those that lived it. After all, we only make educated guesses about what people of the past lived through to gather useful information for our lives in the present.

Works Cited

Bennett, Caroline. “Art and Architecture. ” Viva Travel Guides. 11 Nov 2008.  http://www.forafricanart.com/