Saint Alena

Anonymous, 18th century

Not on view

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, devotional images composed of cut and reassembled prints elaborately adorned with paint, fabric, and other materials found a ready market throughout Catholic Europe. Vividly colored and multitextured, these works stimulated spiritual devotion through their alluring optical and tactile qualities. Long thought to be the products of amateur practitioners, devotional assemblages were more often professionally made, with dedicated industries concentrated in Antwerp and Southern Germany. These works belong to a well-established practice of altering, combining, and repurposing printed images, and they exhibit a sophisticated handling of materials. In this image of Saint Alena, a seventh-century woman who lost an arm when attacked for her Christian faith, the head, arms, and outlines of the engraved figure were colored by hand and laid over textile fragments, accentuating the severed limb.

Saint Alena, Anonymous, 18th century, Mixed media with hand-colored engraving, fabric, lace, and paint on paper

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