Penitent Mary Magdalene
Artistschool of :
Date17th-early - 18th century
MediumOil on board
Work : 16 5/8 x 13 5/8 in. (42.23 x 34.61 cm)
Credit LinePurchased with funds donated by Judith Kingma '56 Hazelton
LabelMary Magdalene was a 1st century Jewish woman, probably from the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. She is mentioned in all of the Gospels as an important early follower of Jesus who witnessed his ministry, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Over the following centuries, the identity of Mary Magdalene became confused with Mary of Bethany, who appears in the Gospels of Luke and John as a repentant prostitute. This confusion was codified in a 13th century text called The Golden Legend that sought to record the life stories of all the Christian saints who were venerated at that time. During the Reformation and Counter Reformation periods of the 16th and 17th centuries, Mary Magdalene was held up as a model of faithful repentance by both Protestants and Catholics. She is often depicted in paintings of the period as a beautiful but sorrowful young woman, living in a cave or wilderness environment, and kneeling in prayer with a skull to remind her of the vanities of life that she has rejected.