If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:6:05

Viceroyalty of New Spain

Video transcript

[Music] we're standing in the former palace of a crostini Twitter bday and we're looking at a crowned nun portrait and this is a full-length life-sized portrait she's frontal she's a beautiful young woman elaborately dressed this particular nun Maria Guadalupe is from a conceptionist convent in the city of Puebla and so the conceptionist order was the earliest one founded for women here in New Spain and it was reserved for the wealthiest elite pure-blooded Spanish women and so when we think about nuns we think about taking a vow of poverty living a very simple life so we might imagine that she is going to renounce all of the wealth and luxury we see her with because what we're seeing is Maria on the day when she takes her vows but in fact the life she leads us not really one of deprivation when she enters the nunnery so there were many female orders that took intense vows of poverty the conceptionist were not one of those orders did you came in with a dowry for instance very much like any married and in fact she is getting married she's getting married in this case to Christ the conceptionist could actually have vast libraries musical instruments and we see some of that reflected in this portrait the day that a woman took her vows the day that she professed was a day of communal celebration this was a big deal in her life and this portrait was intended for her family to remember her by after she took those vows and left her family even if you could have wealth when you entered into the convent you still were living a Koi stirred life meaning you are we dead to the outside world this was not only a big deal for her it's a really important moment for her family as well it almost reminds me of the way today we take photographs of someone on the day that they graduated from high school she looks very proud you can feel the pride of her family while looking at her in this portrait she's wearing this wonderful crown that is made of flowers and these little metal or wax angels and then she's also holding a sculpture of a Christ child in her left hand and in her right hand this normos Kendall decorated with more flowers so she's being associated with her name say with the Virgin Mary we might think about paintings of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ child we might be reminded of paintings of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven where she's crowned and so there's both this idea of her as the Bride of Christ but also an association of her with the Virgin Mary the conceptionist really made this connection to the Virgin Mary clear they are known to wear blue cloaks which were seeing Maria Guadalupe we're here and if you look at where the cloak is fashioned just below her chin we see this really wonderful circular element and this is what's called a nun's badge and it's jewelry in many cases it was tortoiseshell frame with a painting on copper in the center and in this case we're seeing an image of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception so we can tell that because we have iconography or symbolism like the stars that surround the Virgin's head the moon at her feet and the Immaculate Conception refers to the idea that the Virgin Mary herself was conceived without sin and you'll notice that in this nuns badge the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception wears the same blue mantle or cloak that a nun displayed here is wearing the most fabulous part of her outfit is that long lead down the front of her dress just ironing that would have taken a very long time this is a very luxurious outfit and reflects the wealth of this religious order and also reflects the wealth of her family so let's talk about the Christ child that she holds for a moment because that may look rather odd to our eyes because it is a sculpture almost like a doll of the Christ child he's holding a staff he's dressed beautifully he's got a gold crown but it's got jewels in it on his head and we know that these sculptures of the Christ child were often treated as stand-ins for children as a way to channel those maternal instincts and this is a tradition that you see in Western Europe as well that you could dress these dolls of the Christ child they are also associated with the wealthier orders it makes sense given who were seeing in this particular portrait she also wears a long chain of rosary beads and if we follow those down we see a elaborate inscription that identifies the nun and tells us the date on which she professed or entered the order this inscription tells us that she is the legitimate daughter of two elites her parents are named as a Don and a Dona meaning that they are very high up in the social hierarchy tells us where she professes as a nun and it tells us the date July 4th 1800 also carries a very long candle which is also very luxurious it's lit at the top its wreath with roses and carnations flowers associated with Virgin Mary with virginity with love with marriage it's another ostentatious symbol here similarity ostentatious array of flowers the huge crown the jewelry that she wears that fastens her cloak something to note about the crown in addition to the same flowers that we see on the candle is that the crown both alludes to say at the crown of thorns that Christ wears but it also relates to the crowning of the Virgin Mary in heaven after her death and we have this lovely coming together across the composition of reds of Blues of whites of pale brown colors it's just a tour de force of painting as well as this amazing moment for Maria and we can't help but be drawn to her because she's looking out at us as a woman who's about to renounce her worldly life and enter a cloistered convent there's something very alluring about this to us in the 21st century still this is a moment of transition in her very young life you