Orsola Maddalena Caccia
The Nativity of Christ
- Orsola Maddalena Caccia, born Theodora Caccia (Italian, 1596–1676)
- Oil on canvas
- Galleria di Palazzo Bianco, Genoa
Fruit and Flowers
- Suor Orsola Maddalena Caccia (Italian, 1596–1676)
- Oil on canvas, 30 × 39 in. (76.2 × 99.1 cm)
- ca. 1630
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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 a number 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.
In 2020, a collector bequeathed three paintings by the artist to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. As a result of this bequest, The Met now boasts the largest collection of works by the Mannerist painter-nun outside the artist’s native Italy.
Learn more online about Orsola Maddalena Caccia at:
Suor Orsola Maddalena Caccia, (1596–1676), Convent Artist, guest post by Angela Ghirardi
Artnet: Explore >
The National Museum of Women in the Arts: Explore >
Web Gallery of Art: Explore >