An outspoken Hieronymite nun, writer, poet and composer from Mexico who has been called a flame that rose from the ashes of religious authoritarianism, and who has in more recent times been recognised as a proto-feminist, this work – Fama, y Obras Posthumas del Fenix de Mexico, Decima Musa, Poetisa Americana - was, like all her others, published posthumously.
Offered in the Focus on Women auction on July 15 at Swann (25/20/12%), it made 10 times the high estimate.
Issued in Madrid in 1700, this was a first edition of the third selection of her works to be printed. Two earlier selections had appeared in 1689 and 1691.
The first 142 un-numbered pages of Fama, y Obras... comprise laudatory verses and letters in praise of her work and life by contemporaries, both male and female, but are followed by the first edition in print of Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz, a work in which de la Cruz argues in defence of a woman’s right to study secular and religious texts.
In the engraved frontispiece portrait after Clemente Puche (1699-1728) reproduced above de la Cruzsits, quill and book in hand, flanked by personifications of Europe and America.
The coats of arms at top and bottom are those of the soon-to-be-exiled Queen of Spain, Maria Anna of Neuburg, and Giovanna Pignatelli d’Aragona, 7th Marquesa of the Valley of Oaxaca and a descendant of the conquistador, Hernán Cortés.