This figure is one of a set of 50 dressed to represent the outfits worn by Catholic religious orders. They are made of tow (hemp) with wax heads, hands and feet. They were probably made in France, as they are labelled in French, but some of the orders represented were only active in Germany and the Netherlands.
This figure represents a Benedictine nun. Benedictine monks and nuns follow the 6th century Rule of St. Benedict, which encourages a peaceful life devoted to prayer and work. The black Benedictine habit, relieved solely by a white wimple, is one of the most widely recognised nun's habits. It is very similar to the Ursuline nun's habit, (see 1212:1-1905) but does not have a belt, and is worn with a black scapular over the tunic.