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The Translation of Saint Rita of Cascia

Nicolas PoussinMid-1630s

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

"It seems likely that this picture is not, as was once thought, an Assumption of the Virgin: the town in the background is probably Spoleto, near Saint Rita’s birthplace. After an unhappy marriage she applied to join an Augustinian convent at Cascia near Spoleto. Rejected at first, she was miraculously carried though the air into the convent, which then accepted her. She was beatified in 1627. Her usual attributes are a white veil and a thorn in the forehead which may have been rubbed off the picture.

This is a rare example of an identifiable landscape by Poussin.
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  • Title: The Translation of Saint Rita of Cascia
  • Date: Mid-1630s
  • Physical Dimensions: w378 x h488 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: French
  • Support: Panel
  • Provenance: ?Barberini family, in 1648/9 ('un quadretto della B. Rita in taffetta giallo con CorniceÉ'); William Buchanan; his sale, London, Christie's, 24 May 1806, lot 16 ('N. Poussin-A Landscape with the Virgin in the clouds - a charming picture'). Bt Bourgeois for £35.14; London, Noel Desenfans and/or Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1806-1807; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: Saint Rita had wished to become a nun, but submitted to her parents' will and married; after the violent death of her cruel husband, she was miraculously transported to the Augustinian convent of Cascia, near Spoleto. She was canonised in 1900. The town in DPG263 appears to be Spoleto and is almost unique in Poussin's oeuvre for its plausible topography. X-rays reveal that the panel was first painted with the figure of a reclining nymph, and was cut down before being reused for the present composition.
  • Artist: Poussin, Nicolas
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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