The BBC said it commissioned Beckett in 1991 to host a TV documentary on the National Gallery in London. She stood in front of the paintings dressed in a black nun’s habit and discussed the paintings without a script or teleprompter.
“Sister Wendy had a unique presentation style, a deep knowledge of and passion for the arts,” BBC director of arts Jonty Claypole said. “She was a hugely popular BBC presenter and will be fondly remembered by us all.”
Close friend Xinran Xue said Beckett’s death was “a huge loss for the art world. She was a brilliant art critic.”
Beckett was born in South Africa and raised in Scotland. She joined a convent at 16 and started studying fine art in the 1980s.
She taught in Cape Town, South Africa, and Liverpool in northern England.