Eighteenth-Century Convent Art

[Commemorative painting].
Es la rosa, el simbolo más proprio de la pureza….
[Palma de Mallorca, ca. 1780–1800].
(BRMS 151)

Pictorial manuscript on vellum, attached to wooden rod and spindle painted blue and gilded with foliate motifs.

This striking late eighteenth-century vellum wall hanging was likely produced to commemorate the arrival at the convent of Santa Clara in Palma de Mallorca of the noblewoman and nun Raymunda Torella y Despuig (d. 1826). A rare survival of art work made specifically within a female monastic context, the manuscript celebrates Sister Raymunda’s devotion to the order of Poor Clares at Palma and documents the names and roles of more than forty women also serving at the convent. The late-Rococo style of the painting, the work of an accomplished artisan, reflects the high social status of Raymunda but also provides an intriguing contrast with the mendicant principles of the Clarissan order.

With its figural and floral motifs and Raymunda’s coat of arms, the painting can be viewed as imitating elaborate Rococo metalwork with faux ball feet, texts in cartouches, and a program of eighteen saints and martyrs such as Clare, Francis, Margaret, and the Virgin of the Apocalypse. Including significant symbols for female monastics, such as the Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus and a rose in the hortus conclusus, the manuscript presents the order’s simple monastic ideals in a rich and luxurious context. 

<a href="/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=50&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=BRMS+151">BRMS 151</a>
Eighteenth-Century Convent Art