Newsnote: Vincentiana Purchase of the Week: 1859 English engraving of Daughters of Charity

It is interesting that this 1859 print by the English engraver Matthew James Lawless (1837-1864). Mis-identifies the Daughters of Charity as “Sisters of Mercy.” The Daughters of Charity first came in England in 1847 so they were a relatively new feature on the English scene during the 19th century re-birth of English Catholicism after the restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy by Pius IX in 1850. Information on Lawless follows below: “An original etching by Matthew James Lawless (1837-1864), Sisters of Mercy is one of the finest etchings published by the Junior Etching Club. This warm, domestic scene depicts two nuns and a young girl preparing a meal within a rustic kitchen. One of the sisters peels a carrot while the other is gathering more vegetables from the child’s apron. What makes Lawless’s composition most remarkable, however, is its point of view, as it is depicted from the actual eye level of the infant. This original etching served as an illustration for Gerald Griffin’s (1803-1840) poem, The Sister of Mercy. Several lines from the poem are quoted below; “She put from her person the trappings of pride, And passed from her home with the joy of a bride; Forgot are the claims of her riches and birth, For she barters for Heaven the glory of Earth!” * Gerald Griffin Sisters of Mercy, is one of four of his works of art that was commissioned by the Junior Etching Club for the 1862 portfolio, Passages from Modern English Poets. The artist’s other etched contributions are The Little Shipwright, The Drummer and The signed and dated “M. J. Lawless 1859” by Matthew James Lawless within the etching and bearing the artist’s name “M. J. Lawless” and the publisher’s name and date, “London, Published December 1st, 1861 by Day & Sons, Lith. to the Queen” along the lower margin of the plate. This is a fine, original example of the etched art created by the British artist, Matthew James Lawless.” See:…

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