An Interesting c.1680 French Monastic Woolwork & Metal Threadwork Embroidery of a Still Life of Flowers

Origin: French
Period: Louis XIV
Provenance: The Royal Abbey of Saint Calais D'Anisoles; Regalis Abbatice S.Karilefi Anisolensis
Date: c.1670-1700
The Embroidery: 20.5 x 13.25 inches
In Frame: 23.75 x 16.5 inches

The French woolwork and metal thread embroidered picture, of a still life of flowers in glorious woolwork colours and gold stitched metallic threads, verso with a handwritten paper label signed and dated 1903, the inscription reading `RELLIQ ABBAT SANCTI KARILEFI ANISOLENSIS`, with a further inscription in French relating to the provenance of Abbaye Royale de Saint Calais, the whole glazed and presented in an early nineteenth century glazed straw-work and ebonised frame.

The picture and frame are in fragile but stable condition. The straw-work to the frame has losses and old worm and is rickety but not in danger of a collapse. The relic itself has areas of threadbare but the entirety is still attractive and not in any further danger. The colours are not as vivid as they once would have been but they are not as badly faded as they could either.
The inscription on the back gives us a lot of information on the provenance of this work. It reads:

“ce’tableau appartenait anciennement a l’abbaye royale de saint calais, order de sn benoît sacarelere 1793, il fut recueille par un personne piense qui en rup psocha(?) soigneusement les morceunx (?) et les replacaidanes leu ordre il faisait partie de cabinet de m emmo(?) paty(?) qui m’en fit tonnuitie la provenance je l’ai achete’ a savente. Aout 1903.”

Signed… RM?

This roughly translates to English as:

Relic of Abbot Saint Karilefi Anisolensis

This tableau formerly belonged to the royal abbey of St Calais , Order of St. Benedict sacerc in 1793 , he was collected by a pious person who carefully ruppsochu? the morceunt? replacaidanes ?their order and it was firm part of me emmro? Paty? who made me the source tonnuitie? I bought has savente? August 1903 .

RM signed ?

PAX (peace to you)

We can therefore assume this was purchased in 1903 with the provenance handed down at this point.
In the book: Monasticon Gallicanum by M. Germain published in 1870, Karilefi Anisolensis is mentioned as ‘Abbot. S. Karilefi Anisolensis’

The Monasticon Gallicanum is a compilation of French Benedictine monasteries belonging to the congregation of Saint-Maur. This religious institute, which had a strong expansion in seventeenth-century France, also developed a large and important literary work, which has a prominent place this Monasticon Gallicanum, work should relate to data collection for the important task reconstruction of monasteries that mauristas undertaken because of the deplorable situation in which many of them were after suffering the effects of the Wars of Religion and careless in their maintenance during commendatory regime before the reform they they undertook.

The work was driven by the monk Dom Michel Germain (1645-1694) with the aim to catalog houses (abbeys and priories) that were part of the congregation at the time of writing, every home should have its historical review, but the trait that has made it popular is that it was accompanied by a series of prints with views of the various establishments.

In this text Karilefi Anisolensis is mentioned as number 154 with the French name of ‘Saint Calais D’Anisoles’ and the Latin name of ‘Abb. S. Karilefi Anisolensis’ that we see on this inscription. It then goes on to say ‘XIV c.444’ (Manque) as the Gallia Christiana (French Christian) Le Mans Angers as the diocese (Anciens Dioceses) and ‘Tours’ as the Acien-Archeveche’.

The picture in the book (shown with our photographs) shows the ‘schema delineatum anno 1675’ with the formal gardens surrounding it. To the top right corner we can see that the same wreath motif with the letters PAX and the three tridents that we can see hand drawn to the back of this picture.

Other than this very pretty relic fragment being wonderfully decorative it has a fascinating traceable history that could be further explored and proves to be an important and rare survival of French monastic history.