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Premonstratensian Canoness

  • Object:

    Ecclesiastical figure

  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly, made)
    Germany (possibly, made)
    Netherlands (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    first half 19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Figure made of tow and wax, dressed in linen and woollen materials.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr. G. Smith

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This figure is one of a set of 50 dressed to represent the outfits worn by Catholic religious orders. They are made of tow (hemp) with wax heads, hands and feet. They were probably made in France, as they are labelled in French, but some of the orders represented were only active in Germany and the Netherlands.

This figure represents a Premonstratensian Canoness. The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as Premonstratensians or Norbertines, are a Catholic religious order founded in 1120 by St. Norbert (later Archbishop of Magdeburg). Unusually for Catholic communities, this order has always considered the spiritual life of both its male and female members to be equal. The canonesses are often known as Norbertine Sisters. While Canons or Canonesses live in a community and follow the religious life, they are also expected to preach, teach and offer hospitality to pilgrims, travellers and tend the sick in hospitals. The Premonstratensian order is still active today. They are also known in England as the White Canons due to their undyed wool habits, with which canonesses wear a black veil lined in white.

Physical description

Figure made of wax and tow, dressed in linen and woollen fabrics.
White tunic and scapular, sash, black veil lined in white

Place of Origin

France (possibly, made)
Germany (possibly, made)
Netherlands (possibly, made)


first half 19th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Figure made of tow and wax, dressed in linen and woollen materials.


Height: 31 cm including stand

Object history note

One of a group of 50 figures given to the Educational Department by Mr. G. Smith of St John's Wood in 1868, but only formally accessioned in 1905. The labels on the bases are in French but some of the orders represented (e.g the Alexians and the Order of the Conception) seem to have been confined to Germany and the Low Countries. (from original acquisition record for 1905)

Descriptive line

Wax and tow figure dressed as a Premonstratensian Canoness

Production Note

Labelled in French; some of the orders represented confined to Germany or the Netherlands.


Wax; Tow; Linen; Wool (textile)


Religion; Christianity; Ecclesiastical textiles; Dolls & Toys; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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