A RARE TEXTILE AND NEEDLEWORK COLLAGE PICTURE DEPICTING SAINT CECILIA,
LATE 16 TH /EARLY 17 TH CENTURY
Depicting interior setting with seated figure of the Saint, patron of music and musicians, with attendant angel playing a pipe organ, hand annotated musical text, donor (?) figures to an archway to the left, created using paper, textiles, hand dotted gilded paper, the whole with penwork and hand painted detailing, and with small glass beads simulating jewelled details and fruits
approximately 20 x 28cm, in an ebonised moulded 17th century frame, 41.5 x 49.5cm overall
Together with a letter, dated 1972, from the Wendy Hefford, Research Assistant Department of Textiles at the Victoria & Albert Museum stating " The picture of cut paper and textiles seems perfectly correct for a 17th century date so far as the style of the *** and the patterned textiles are concerned ", and a footnote from PW Jackson, Deputy Keeper Prints & Drawings, confirming " The drawing supports the same conclusion ".
The latter part of the 16 th century had seen a large resurgence of interest in Saint Cecilia. In 1585 Pope Sixtus VI had founded the the Academy of Music (Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia) in her name. In 1599 her tomb in Trastevere was opened and the priest and others testified to the incorruptibility of her cadaver- an affirmation of her blessed status.
The musical score is inscribed with the Cantantibus organis. This Latin text forms the antiphon of the Vespers on her Feast Day, November 22nd. 'Organis', Latin for 'musical instruments', was often mistranslated as 'organ' and hence, as in this picture, the Saint is often depicted playing, or being played, an organ. The pipes themselves look possibly to be tarnished silver.
The exuberant combination of textiles is reminiscent of needlework and embroidery produced by glove and stomacher makers of this period. The dotted gilded paperwork is akin to contemporary gold braiding work whilst the painted detailing evokes the work of burse makers and limners. Although the likely origin of this work is, as yet, unknown it would seem to be the work of a gifted child or young person- emulating the finer work they may have seen in their household. It has been noted though that the male figure shows strong similarities in dress, face and hair to the Hilliard ' Attici amoris ergo ' portrait miniature from 1588- now in the V&A collection.