St. Cecilia

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Whitehall

    The source for the life of St Cecilia, who was martyred sometime between the second and fourth centuries, is the ‘Passion of St. Cecilia’. According to this source, Cecilia was a Christian who on her wedding day informed her pagan husband, Valerian, that she had consecrated her virginity to God. So impressed was Valerian that both he and his brother, Tiburtius, became Christians. The brothers were subsequently martyred for their faith. Cecilia was arrested and sentenced to death after refusing to relinquish her faith. Attempts to suffocate her in her bathroom were unsuccessful and a soldier was instead sent to behead her. He struck three ineffective blows, leaving her to linger for three days before her eventual death. Supposedly buried in the Catacombs of St Callixtus, St Cecilia’s relics were moved centuries later to the Church of Sta. Cecilia in the Trastevere (both in Rome).

    It is related that on her wedding day Cecilia, on hearing music, 'sang in her heart only to God' and since the 14th century she has generally been depicted with an organ as her attribute. This connection with music was so firmly established that in 1584 she was made Patroness of the Academy of Music in Rome and of church music in general.

  • About the artist
    Edouard Veith was part of a group of Viennese artists who revived the historical and neo-baroque style at the turn of the century, achieving fame with his monumental, decorative works. He was a pupil of Ferdinand Laufberger at the Vienna Art School and subsequently studied in Paris, where he later worked. He also spent long periods travelling and worked in Italy, Belgium and Tunisia, as well as painting frescoes in Vienna and Berlin, and scenery for theatres in Vienna and Prague. In addition Veith made landscape watercolours, some historical and mythological scenes, and portraits for members of Viennese society. He received many awards during his career, including the Reichel Prize of the Vienna Academy.
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  • Details
    Title
    St. Cecilia
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 330.50 cm, width: 201.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Acquired from Count Oswald Thun, 1926
    Inscription
    sbr
    Provenance
    probably collection of Count Oswald Thun; acquired 1926
    GAC number
    0/715