Portrait of Doña Micaela Esquibel

Portrait of Doña Micaela Esquibel

Late 1700s
unknown artist
painting, portrait
Oil paint on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Robert J. Stroessner

Unknown artist, Portrait of Doña Micaela Esquibel, late 1700s. Oil paint on canvas; 21¾ × 16½ in. Gift of Robert J. Stroessner, 1991.1166.

image height: 21.75 in, 55.2450 cm; image width: 16.5 in, 41.9100 cm; frame height: 29 1/2 in, 74.9300 cm; frame width: 20 3/8 in, 51.7525 cm; frame depth: 5 in, 12.7000 cm
In Spanish, along bottom edge: "Rto de la Sra. Da. Micaela Esquibel. M.e que Fue de Ntra. M.R.M.Abba. Sor Maria Ana / Fundora del Convento de Sta. Coleta, y pobres Capuchinas de Ntra. Sra. de Guada / lupe" English translation: "Portrait of Señora Doña Micaela Esquibel, who was the mother of Our Very Reverend Mother Abbess Sister Maria Ana, founder of the Convent of Santa Coleta and the poor Capuchins of Our Lady of Guadalupe"
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art
This object is currently on view

Painted during the second half of the 1700s, this portrait depicts Señora Doña Micaela Esquibel, a native of Puebla, Mexico. She wears a gold-thread embroidered dress, a pearl choker with large pendant pearl, a long pearl and coral necklace, and gold and pearl earrings. Pearls and coral were so readily available in Mexico and South America that women of all classes wore multistrand pearl and coral bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.

The Spanish inscription on this painting indicates that Doña Micaela Esquibel was the mother of the celebrated Capuchin nun, Sister Ana María, also known by her full religious name of María Ana (or Mariana) de San Juan Nepomuceno. Baptized as María Micaela Josefa Francisca Dionisia in Puebla, Mexico in 1751, Sister Ana María professed as a nun in 1771. In 1780, she founded the Convent of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Santa Coleta in northern Mexico City near the sanctuary of the convent’s primary titular devotion, the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The status of the painting’s sitter, Doña Micaela Esquibel, is in part demonstrated by the luxurious fabrics and jewels that adorn her body. The inscription, however, further elevates Micaela Esquibel’s position by connecting her to her illustrious and pious daughter, Sor Ana María. The form of the inscription suggests that it may have been added after Micaela Esquibel’s death. In addition, the way in which the inscription refers to Sister Ana María specifically as “Our Very Reverend Mother” suggests that at some point the portrait was displayed within the Convent of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Santa Coleta, and was perhaps even commissioned by the nuns themselves.

--Donna Pierce, 2015; Sabena Kull, 2017-18 Mayer Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art

Known Provenance
Bequest of Robert Stroessner 27 December 1991 to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.

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