Here’s a small collection of free vintage images featuring nuns. These are curated from various public domain resources, lightly edited, and are available for personal or commercial use as they are out of copyright in the United States. If you’re from outside the US, you may have different restrictions.
To download these images, click on the image to open it to full size and then save to your computer or device. They are 300 DPI JPGs and suitable for printing to use in paper collages and junk journals, or for digital collage pages.
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And now: onto the images!
To start things off, here’s three photos of Sister Helene:
The large crucifix around her neck is very striking, and it’s interesting how she keeps her hands folded into the large sleeves of her habit.
Next is Sister Uriel, with a very striking habit and face:
She’s holding a small book (book of hours, maybe?), and you can see her crucifix dangling from her waist. She also has a locket around her neck and a large set of tassels on her waist. I’m not familiar with Catholic nuns’ habits at all, so if you know what those things mean, please leave a comment!
Nun from 1903
Here’s a series of images of a nun from 1903:
These photos have some very interesting distressing around the edges, perfect for junk journals with a more grungy look. I particularly like the tape on the top of the first two pages.
Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them, so you’ll get the biggest and best quality download.
See also: Using a Focus Image in a Digital Collage
Next are some of my favorite vintage photos: a set of portraits of Japanese nuns!
These photos were taken in 1866 or so, by an Italian-British photographer called Felice Beato. These are mendicant nuns, meaning they depend mostly upon alms to survive. The photos are hand-colored, which is why they have such a delicate coloring.
I liked these so much I made another set with slightly brighter colors, less sepia-toned than the originals:
Maybe this is a little closer to their original coloring?
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Next is another interesting nun, this time from Russia:
This photo is from the 1860s. I’ve edited the original sepia photo to the black and white one on the right, just in case you want some variety.
Nun in Convent
This is a rather moody black and white vintage photo of a nun walking in a cloister. It’s a bit blurry, but I couldn’t resist sharing it– it has such an interesting atmosphere!
And here’s a fascinating black and white photograph of a young nun, with a bright white habit, praying with her hands together. I think actually this is a model dressed as a nun, maybe for a textbook or encyclopedia? It was taken by Fitz W. Guerin, some time in the late 1800s.
I hope you enjoyed this collection of vintage nun photographs! If you use them in a collage, junk journal, or scrapbook page, please leave a comment letting me know!