Philadelphia Museum of Art Custom Prints



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About the Artwork

This portrait depicts the famous poet, scholar, and nun, Sor (Sister) Juana Inés de la Cruz. She looks directly at us and holds a small book of prayers in her left hand. She rests her right hand on a larger book, identified as a volume of her own poetry. Juana’s clothing and headpiece convey that she is a Catholic nun, someone who has dedicated her life to religious observance. Under her chin is a devotional badge with a Biblical scene of the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she will give birth to Jesus. A pyx (piks), a round box that holds the wafers for the ritual of communion, is attached to Juana’s left shoulder. She also wears a rosary, a string of beads that guides Catholics in prayer.

Juana was born in 1648 in a part of New Spain that is now Mexico. This Spanish colony extended from what is now the southwestern United States into Central America. She was an extremely bright child, reading at age 3 and writing poetry by 8. At the time, women were excluded from academic studies, especially if they were married. In hopes of continuing her education, she joined the Convent of San Jerónimo in 1669. While there, she amassed a personal library of over 4,000 books and studied a wide range of subjects. She wrote plays, poems, and essays, publishing books that brought her fame in Europe and Spanish America. Some of her writings criticized the Catholic church for keeping women uneducated. This angered some church leaders, who eventually forced her to abandon her non-religious studies. She gave away her books, musical instruments, and scientific equipment. She died in 1695 while caring for her fellow nuns during an epidemic.

This painting was made by Nicolás Enríquez de Vargas after Juana died. The inscription at the bottom describes her as the “phoenix of America,” and the “honor of the nation of the New World and the subject of admiration and praises of the Old.” Today she is remembered as a gifted writer, scholar, and brave advocate for women’s education.

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About Our Prints

Philadelphia Museum of Art Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering so make sure to come back and see the new releases.
You have found the work that speaks to you. Now what? Using our innovative custom framing tool you can preview exactly what your finished and framed art will look like. We offer many different moulding styles so there is sure to be a match for any type of decor.

Member Discounts

As always, members will receive their discount for all transactions processed through our Custom Prints store. Simply enter your Member ID during the checkout process and your discount will be applied.