Saint Fabiola Enamel, After Jeanne Jaques Henner, by René BARLAUD Master Enameller of France, Limoges France circa 1930
There have been many images of Saint Fabiola or 'The Virgin in Red' as she is often referred to but not many as fine as this enamel which was done by René BARLAUD around 1920-1930.
This beautiful enamel is a copy of the famous work by Jeanne Jaques Henner of Saint Fabiola the original of which was unfortunately lost so it is wonderful to have this enamel so that the work by Henner is eternal. I have reproduced in the last photo a photo of the original work prior to its disappearance so that you can see just how perfectly Barlaud reproduced it.
Saint Fabiola was a wealthy Roman Patrician of the famous Fabia family. She was for a time a member of St. Jerome's circle but fell away, divorced her husband for his dissolute life, and remarried. On the death of her second husband, she returned to the Church, devoted herself to charitable works and aiding churches, and built the first Christian public hospital in the West, where she personally tended the sick. She visited Jerome at Bethlehem in 395, supported him in his controversy with Patriarch John of Jerusalem, decided not to join Paula's community, and on her return to Rome, continued her charitable work, opening a hospice for poor pilgrims at Porto with St. Pammachius. Jerome wrote two treatises for her and is the source of most of our information about her. Her feast day is December 27th.
This is a beautiful example of the quality of enamel paintings produced in the early part of the 20th century by the master enamellers of Limoges. It has been extraordinarily difficult to photograph as the glaze is deep and brilliant and does not photograph well.
Added to that the copper on which the enamelling was done is shaped to the features of Saint Fabiola and the folds of her hood. It is stunning to look at close up but a nightmare to photograph.
Each colour in these Limoges enamels has to be applied separately then fired then on to the next colour. Enamels can take between 16 and 22 firings, a long and laborious process that has to be right first time each time. No wonder they are so sought after.
Another enamel copy of this piece by Henner was sold by Palladium Fine Art two years ago for $1500.
Please study the photographs carefully as they form an integral part of the sale description.