Journalist, writer and art critic Sister Wendy Beckett, who became a TV star in the 1990s, has died at the age of 88.
The Catholic nun died at the Carmelite Monastery in Quidenham, Norfolk.
Her close friend Xinran Xue said: “It is very sad news. Many people see her as a religious person and she was far more than that. It’s a huge loss for the art world. She was a brilliant art critic.”
Sister Wendy found fame as an unlikely TV star when she presented a series of BBC documentaries during the 1990s, including Sister Wendy’s Odyssey and Sister Wendy’s Grand Tour.
She presented unscripted programmes from galleries around the world.
Wendy Beckett was born in South Africa, before moving to Edinburgh as a child and joining a convent at the age of 16.
In 1950 she was awarded a Congratulatory First Class degree in English literature from Oxford University and later taught in cities including Cape Town and Liverpool.
She began studying art in the 1980s and decided to write a book on her passion to raise money for her convent.
The result was 1988’s Contemporary Women Artists and three years later, by which time she was already in her 60s, the BBC hired her to present a documentary on the National Gallery.
Dressed in her black nun’s habit, Ms Beckett stood in front of paintings and discussed them to the camera without script or autocue, relying on her knowledge and natural presentation style.
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