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A vestal virgin, wearing pure white robes and veil, is seen pouring oil from a gold jug into an urn. A vestal virgin was a Roman priestess of the temple of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home. Priestesses maintained the sacred fire, which needed to be kept burning perpetually. They collected clean water, prepared food used in rituals and cared for objects in the temple's sanctuary. Sworn to chastity, the punishment for breaking this vow was being buried alive.
early 19th C
oil on panel
41.5 x 35 cm
purchased from Ursula Tudor Perkins with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1991