“Portrait of a canoness”, 18th century

Oil on canvas «Portrait of a canoness Saint-Augustin», dated: 1761, paper mâché frame.
«Canon» is a name given mainly to nuns. Very old title of girls living in community under a kind of rule, but without any commitment and having as main function to sing the divine office as the canons. Canon of Saint Augustine, nun who follows the rule of Saint Augustine and who is dressed in white serge, with a fine canvas surplis on his dress, a black veil on the head, and a aumusse on the arm. We call these canons madam.
Very little is known about the life these pious women first maintained. The texts mention the canons themselves from the 12th century. From then on, the canons were no longer held to the vows of poverty, chastity or obedience. They can join the institution at any age and some are appointed when they are not yet six years old. They will then be raised and educated by the community and from their twenty-five years old, they will be able to leave the institution to found a family while retaining their title of canon but by giving up their prebende (income attached to the function). When they die, they maintain their right to be buried in the collegiate church.
During the last years of the Ancien Régime, the canons adopted a rather worldly life, presenting themselves to the balls of nobility in sumptuous outfits. The institution then looked more like a place of accommodation and education for young noble girls waiting for their eventual marriage.

XVIII century
Dresden, Germany

Height with frame: 81 cm

Width with frame: 65 cm

Do you have questions?

Do you have questions?