Anonymous, Sor María Josefa de San Ignacio (Clarisa), 1771
From the write up at Museo Nacional de Colombia: "Women of the colonial elite had two choices: the convent or marriage. Neither option was a personal choice, a girl's father chose his daughter's fate. Nuns constituted the part of the social body designated to suffer for the salvation of the rest, thus the importance of mortification and suffering; God rewarded these societies out of which flowers of sanctity arose: Rose of Lima, The White Lily of Quito, Marianne de Jesus; and the Lily of Bogota, Gertrudis of Saint Agnes. In the mid-18th century it became customary to paint these flowers of sanctity, women who lived mortified and exemplary lives and whose sanctity was famous by the time of their deaths.
They were buried standing, dressed in the habits of their order. Some of them were laid to rest with their heads on a brick, symbolizing extreme penitence, others with their heads on a pillow. The medallion on their chest indicates to whom they were consecrated on the day they took their vows. The face reflected a person's virtues and flowers illustrated the specific virtue for which they were known while alive. The red rose symbolizes passion and mortification the iris, chastity; the carnation, love; the lily; purity, particularly in the imitation of devotion to the Virgin Mary; the white poppy, sainted ignorance and the red poppy, devotion to Christ; jasmine represented elegance, grace and virginal kindness; violets, humility.
If they were crowned upon death, this meant they had achieved their reward: eternal union with Christ, their husband, to whom they were joined in spiritual "nuptials." Painting them in their transition to this new life represented the "crowning" of this culminating moment in their lives, the crown represented their virtues"
I think the paintings are both creepy and beautiful.
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