Sister Wendy Beckett, nun and TV art critic, dies at 88

LONDON, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Sister Wendy Beckett, a nun and art historian who became an unlikely television star in Britain in the 1990s, died at the age of 88 on Wednesday, the Carmelite monastery at Quidenham in Norfolk said on Wednesday.

"I can confirm that Sr Wendy Beckett died today, at the age of 88, at 2.16 pm at a residential care home a couple of miles away from the Carmelite monastery at Quidenham," a spokeswoman for the monastery told Reuters in an emailed statement.

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Sister Wendy Beckett
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 4, 1997 file photo, Sister Wendy Beckett, a Roman Catholic nun of the Sisters of Notre Dame, who lives in Colinton, England, and is a well-known art critic, stands near an unidentified sarcophagus at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The art historian and critic Sister Wendy Beckett died aged 88 on Wednesday Dec, 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)
Sister Wendy Beckett appearing on the BBC programme Breakfast, 09/10/2006, talking about her new book '100 Favourite Poems'. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
(L-R: Sister Wendy Beckett, Brother Dietrich Reinhart and Abbot John Klassen - who are are principals from Saint John's). Art commentator Sister Wendy Beckett views pages of The Saint John Bible, a 21st century bible written entirely by hand, now on view at the Victoria and Albert museum (until the 1st of May 2006). This is the first time the bible has been seen outside America. The bible was made in Wales using medieval techniques, by hand, utilising precious minerals an stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite, copper, silver and 24-carat gold. West London, Monday 30 January 2006. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Edmond Terakopian / PA (Photo by Edmond Terakopian - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
L-R: Donald Jackson (Artistic Director of the project and scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords), Sister Wendy Beckett, Brother Dietrich Reinhart and Abbot John Klassen (Who are are principals from Saint John's). Art commentator Sister Wendy Beckett views pages of The Saint John Bible, a 21st century bible written entirely by hand, now on view at the Victoria and Albert museum (until the 1st of May 2006). This is the first time the bible has been seen outside America. The bible was made in Wales using medieval techniques, by hand, utilising precious minerals an stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite, copper, silver and 24-carat gold. West London, Monday 30 January 2006. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Edmond Terakopian / PA (Photo by Edmond Terakopian - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Wendy Beckett, a British nun, presents a program on painting on US television. (Photo by Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images)
Sister Wendy Beckett appearing on the BBC programme Breakfast, 09/10/2006, talking about her new book '100 Favourite Poems'. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
Sister Wendy Beckett, a British nun and noted art historian, hosts Sister Wendy's American Collection, a series on the classic art collections in six American museums, airing on PBS. (Photo by Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images)
Art Historian Sister Wendy visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Photo by Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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South African-born Beckett was living in a caravan in the monastery in eastern England when she started studying art in the 1980s, according to the BBC, which broadcast her documentaries.

Beckett wrote around 25 books, which included collections of poetry and meditations, and made a dozen documentaries, according to the New York Times.

She was spotted by a film crew at an exhibition and commissioned by the BBC to make a 1992 documentary - "Sister Wendy's Odyssey" - about paintings and sculpture in six British museums.

She continued to make programs for the next decade, speaking directly to the camera while wearing her black nun's habit and winning fans in Britain and in the United States, where the programs aired on public television. (Reporting by Paul Sandle and Kanishka Singh; editing by Hugh Lawson and Rosalba O'Brien)

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