Gwen John spent the majority of her working life in Paris and the nearby town of Meudon. In 1913 she became a Catholic and made a large number of paintings of the local church and of the nuns that belonged to the Meudon order, the `Soeurs de Charite de la Presentation de la Sainte Vierge de Tours?. This work was previously known as `A Sleeping Nun?. However, the artist was asked to make deathbed drawings of nuns on several occasions and therefore it is likely that the work may be a record of a real scene or a later exploration of the powerful motif. The combination of the nun?s posture and pale complexion added to the fact that she is holding a rosary, would indicate that she is dead or dying rather than sleeping.