According to the inscription, the nun in this portrait was a member of the Franciscan Convent of Santa Clara in Puebla, Mexico. It was customary in Mexico in the colonial period for nuns to have portraits painted when they took their vows. As "brides of Christ," they often were depicted dressed in their new habits, but with the addition of elaborate capes or mantles, as seen in this example. In some instances they wore large brooches with saints painted on them and/or held small statues of their favorite, and in some cases, namesake saints. The nun in this portrait holds a small image of the Christ Child, alluding to her new name as a nun: Ana Maria of the Precious Blood of Christ.
In the portraits now known as "Crowned Nun Portraits," they wore crowns covered with flowers and held candles or bouquets with matching flowers. Apparently the flowers sometimes were made of wax, but recent research has indicated that they were also made from fabric with wire frameworks. In some cases, the nuns saved their crowns and bouquets and were later buried wearing them, as indicated in some surviving death portraits and from archeological excavations at the site of the former Jeronymite convent in Mexico City.
--Donna Pierce, 2015
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