26 October 2016
Property from the Collection of Everett Fahy
THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE OF ST CATHERINE, illuminated charter of religious profession of Sister Maria Eleanora Pisani, Parma, 5 December 1768.
13 1/8 x 17 3/4 inches. St Catherine of Alexandria kneeling before the Virgin and Child and flanked by Sts Augustine and Jerome, with a priest and deacon below; the text containing the religious vows of Sister Maria Eleanora in joining the Hieronymite nuns of St Catherine; below, the coat of arms of the Venetian Pisani family; signed by the artist: "P. Sanctes Parma Pinxit & Inv." (rubbed, flaking of pigments, occasional smudges, taped to old mat).
From at least the time of St. Benedict, it was customary for candidates for religious profession to submit written statements of their vows. The rites for the consecration of virgins or the profession of women religious found in Italian pontificals not only include provision for each candidate’s formal pronouncement of her vows, in terms similar to those given here, but they also often add instructions for a ceremony in which each candidate laid the charter of her profession on the altar. This is a splendid example of just such a charter. Very little is known concerning the feminine branch of the Hieronymite order, although the present document provides evidence that there were convents of Hieronymite nuns in Italy in the 18th century. The community joined by Maria Eleanora would likely have been that of St Catherine in Parma, a convent of Augustinian canonesses first recorded in the 14th century and dissolved in 1810.
Sir John Pope-Hennessy (1913-1994), New York; (†), Christie's, New York, 10 January 1996, Lot 12, where acquired by
George Trescher (1926-2003), New York, by whom bequeathed to Everett Fahy.
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