This is a rare and sacred example of monastery work from the early part of the 18th century, dating towards 1730. It is hand painted (gouache-watercolor) on paper (under glass) and is a fine large work. It originates from a beautiful collection found in the south of France.
During the 17th and 18th centuries this type of reliquary ex voto was produced in monasteries. Works of devotion and faith, these reliquaries held very symbolic images and portraits of beloved Saints. Saint Therese is represented on one side of this reliquary and the Sacred Heart devotion on the other side.
The colors and detailing of the Sacred Heart devotion are exquisite. Rich hues of red, yellow, orange and rose have retained their wonderful color (the colors were made of natural pigments, which imparts a richness not found today). The flowers are detailed and beautifully rendered. The Sacred Heart floats at the center and above the symbol for the Holy Spirit (the dove) encircles rays from heaven around the heart. (Saint Teresa of Avila, (founder of the Discalced Carmelite religious order), invested lots of time and energy into prayer and became famous for the mystical experiences she had with God and his angels. The pinnacle of St. Teresa's angelic encounters happened in 1559 in Spain, while she was praying. An angel appeared and pierced her heart with a spear of fire that sent God's pure, passionate love into her soul). The colors on this side are somber, in grays, black and muted red and rose. The details of St. Therese's face are lovely, she wears an humble smile as she looks towards heaven.
Each painting has been placed under glass which gives two sides or two faces to the reliquary. A wide band of gilt braid fixes the two halves together. A small crochet twined forms a loop at the top for hanging from a ribbon or belt.
It is in good antique condition for it's age: There is darkening to the bottom half of St. Therese's habit, fading to the upper left edge just to the right side of the angel. The side of the Sacred Devotion retains the original colors and has little fading. The glass shows no cracks or chips. It measures: 3 3/4" high, 3 1/4" wide and 1/4" thick.
It is a very beautiful work which speaks volumes even today, continuing the devotion of faith in it's rich symbolism.