Whenever a young woman in colonial-era New Spain opted to join a religious order for the remainder of her life, she did not simply escape the personal restraints of marriage; she became a “bride of Christ” through the solemn ceremony accompanying her profession of vows. Like weddings in the societal sphere, religious vows to the divine spouse were accompanied by pomp and circumstance; the new nun's patrons commissioned her wedding portrait, a genre that came to be known as monjas coronadas (crowned-nun portraits).

The crowned-nun genre has mostly been examined for artistic style and iconography or for how it represented conventual life. James M. Córdova's new monograph brings novel analysis, for its author seeks to explain why demand for these portraits boomed in mid- to late eighteenth-century New Spain, as well as to account for how novohispano crowned-nun portraits differed from those...

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