Richard van Orley

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Richard van Orley
Portrait of Abbess Marie de Jesus
after 1665
Pen and brown ink with gray wash and black ink on laid paper.
6 1/16 x 3 3/4 inches (154 x 95 mm)
The Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.

Richard van Orley was born in Brussels and a student of his father, Pieter van Orley. In this drawing, he depicted Maria de Agreda (1602-1665), also called Marie de Jésus, a Franciscan nun from the Old Castile region of Spain. Marie de Jésus was famous for her writings, in particular "The Mystical City, Divine History of the Virgin, Mother of God" which was printed posthumously in 1670 in Madrid. According to the author, she based the text, which described the life of the Virgin, including her time in the womb, on personal revelations from God. Despite its popularity, the book met controversy in France, particularly at the Sorbonne, where it was criticized for emphasizing the author's revelations over Catholic doctrine (T. D. Kendrick, Mary of Agreda: the Life and Legend of a Spanish Nun [London, 1967]). This sheet closely resembles an etching of the same subject that served as a frontispiece for the edition of the Mystical City published in Brussels in 1715. As noted by Alain Jacobs, Van Orley chose not to represent Maria in the throes of spiritual ecstasy, but rather working at her desk (Jacobs, Richard van Orley, [Brussels, 2004]). The print after this work is not in Hollstein.


Inscribed in black ink: "La Venérable mère Marie de Jesus, / abbesse du monastère de l'immaculée concep- / tion de la ville d'Agreda naquit lell avril 1602/ et mourit le 23 Mai 1665 / Van Orley del.".

Joseph F. McCrindle, New York (McCrindle collection no. A1513).
Associated names: 

McCrindle, Joseph F., former owner.

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