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Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

A cu­rios­ity among Soame Jenyns’s on­line Ja­panese works was a 6in-high late-18th-cen­tury Edo Pe­riod ex­port medal­lion dec­o­rated in gold hi­ra­maki-e on a black-lac­quer ground with a bust por­trait. It was of a stern-look­ing lady in a wim­ple, la­belled ‘Made­moi­selle Le­gras’, and on the back was the in­for­ma­tion that she was the founder and first su­pe­rior of a char­ity serv­ing the sick poor and that she died in Paris in 1660.

This was St Louise de Mar­il­lac, born in 1591, the il­le­git­i­mate daugh­ter of an aris­to­crat, who mar­ried An­toine Le­gras, sec­re­tary to Queen Marie de Medi­cis. Wid­owed, she be­came a com­pan­ion of St Vin­cent de Paul, with whom, in 1633, she founded the Daugh­ters of Char­ity. It has con­tin­ued to per­form good works around the world, although there is an his­toric-abuse en­quiry at its Scot­tish or­phan­ages.

Louise was canon­ised in 1934 and a wax ef­figy con­tain­ing her bones can be seen in the chapel of the Daugh­ters’ moth­er­house in the rue du Bac, Paris. Jenyns’s Ori­en­tal relic sold for £1,375.

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