Here we have a beautiful miniature painted portrait of Saint Fabiola--or girl in red scarf--set into an 800 silver bezel with glass, and with both clasp to wear as a brooch and eye hook for pendant. Fabiola was a 14th-century Roman aristocrat who divorced her first husband then upon the death of her second converted to Christianity and became a steward of the poor. Centuries later, after an 1885 portrait of her by French artist Jean-Jacques Henner was lost, reproductions of that portrait became popular, transforming St. Fabiola into a "19th-century marketing figure for Christianity on postcards and religious memorabilia." The image is always the same: Fabiola’s profile faces the left with her head covered by a red veil. Belgian artist Francis Alÿs began collecting paintings of Saint Fabiola in 1992, after he found her portrait at a flea market in Mexico City. He continued to scour flea markets hoping he might find a more famous painting yet he kept coming across this same depiction of Fabiola. According to Curator Toby Kamps of the Menil Collection in Houston, which is holding an exhibition called the Fabiola Project, "It was once the best selling postcard at the Louvre and was very widely disseminated. For whatever reason, Fabiola caught on as a favorite for amateur painters.” And so here we have yet another girl in red scarf, beautifully rendered and signed, and the silver stamps on the back of the bezel tell us it is Italian, circa 1934-1944 (by 1944 the Italian government had required the 800 to be enclosed in an oval).
Measures 1" wide by about 1-1/2" tall not including the small link attached to the eye hook. The silver has a lovely patina. Glass is intact. Overall in great vintage condition.
A cherished icon, perhaps because of her role as Patron Saint to Abused Women--a piece that speaks to us as much today as it did in the past.
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