José María Sara y Hernández (Mexican, late 18th - early 19th century),
Portrait of Sor María Micaela Josefa
oil on canvas, 69 ¾ x 38 ½ in.; 177.2 x 97.8 cm
Museum purchase, 1962.314
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, portraits of nuns were often commissioned by a young woman’s family, for a daughter’s religious vocation was a source of great pride. This painting’s inscription mentions the subject’s religious and given names, as well as her parents’ names and the dates she took vows in the Capuchin convent of Puebla in 1791 and 1792. The strictest of Franciscan orders, Capuchin nuns were typically portrayed in their austere habits and with eyes lowered modestly. This painting is a “traveling scroll.” In its wooden case it could be carried from place to place, then unrolled and hung as needed.