Cartas de América #17: the first indigenous nuns tell their own stories

The first painting I saw when I walked into Painted in Mexico/Pinxit Mexici, currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, belongs to a favorite subgenre of mine: art that depicts art. Specifically, it depicts the altarpiece by Juan Rodríguez Juárez in the chapel at the Convent of Corpus Christi in Mexico City:

image sources: tumblr / met

The painting, like the convent itself, was commissioned by Viceroy Baltasar de Zúñiga y Guzmán, Marquis de Valero. He sent the painting to Felipe V, then king and emperor, in commemoration of the convent’s opening. He was hoping the king would support his project. Normally, a man of his status and money wouldn’t need much support—there were eighty-three convents in Mexico City already, what’s one more?—but he wasn’t simply purchasing the prayers of a few favored daughters. Corpus Christi was the first convent for indigenous women.

Cartas de América #17: the first indigenous nuns tell their own stories

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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