barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Gwendolen Mary John (1876-1939)

Mère Poussepin

Meudon, Paris, about 1915/20

Oil on canvas

60.5 x 45.3 cm


Mother Marie Poussepin founded the Order of the Sisters of Charity of the Holy Virgin of Tours in 1696. 

Gwen John was commissioned in 1913 to paint Poussepin’s portrait for their convent in Meudon, the Parisian suburb where she lived and attended church.  The portrait was based on a prayer card which reproduced a contemporary image of Poussepin.  This is one of fifteen further versions John completed for the convent, though only one was ever hung there.  The artist’s commitment to the project reflected her intense religious faith and her practice of producing numerous variations of a single figure.


Purchased 1976 (No.76.1)

EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)

A horse trotting


Jean Morin (c. 1590-1650)

Omer Talon


Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, after Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

La belle Ferronnière


Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Nude in Three-Quarter Profile, Part of the Head cut away