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American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Robert Walter Weir, American, 1803–1889

Taking the Veil


Oil on canvas

49 1/2 × 39 3/4 in. (125.7 × 101 cm)
Yale University Art Gallery
The masterpiece of Robert Walter Weir’s maturity, this scene depicts the consecration of a novice into the Catholic church, a scene witnessed by the artist decades earlier in Rome in the Church of San Guiseppe. Dressed in a white wedding gown, the young woman kneels before the bishop and bows her head to receive the chaplet, a symbol of purity, while her mother, in red, nods consent. Although Roman Catholic ritual was a mystery to many Americans at the time, Weir’s message of solemn spiritual commitment transcended the Catholic ceremony. A professor of art at West Point known primarily as a history painter, Weir was also the period’s leading American painter of religious themes.
Made in New York, New York, United States
Not on view
19th century

Marian Wardle, The Weir Family, 1820-1920 Expanding the Traditions of American Art (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 2011), 9, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.