Orsola Maddalena Caccia
The Nativity of Christ
- Orsola Maddalena Caccia, born Theodora Caccia (Italian, 1596–1676)
- Oil on Canvas
- Galleria di Palazzo Bianco, Genoa
Like many of the earliest known women painters of the Renaissance, Orsola Maddalena Caccia (1596-1676) was a nun. She was born Theodora Caccia; she adopted the name Orsola Maddalena when she took her vows as an Ursuline sister. Later she, along with her five sisters, joined a convent founded by their father, painter Guglielmo Caccia, in Moncalvo. Of the six Caccia sisters, only Orsola Maddalena and Francesca were painters.
Orsola Maddalena learned to paint by working as her father’s assistant. Later she organized a painting studio at the convent where she eventually became abbess. She took on students and assistants, and to an extent supported the convent by taking commissions.
As far as we know, no paintings by Francesca Caccia survive. But at least a handful of works by Orsola Maddalena still exist today, many in the area of Italy where she lived and worked. These paintings include the Nativity featured here; Birth of the Virgin; St. Luke the Evangelist in the Studio; The Birth of John the Baptist; and several other religious works. She also painted still lifes with flowers and birds. She is said to have helped bring the genre of still life painting to Northwestern Italy.
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