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Saint Mary Magdalen

Quinten Massijs
29 cm x 45 cm x 1 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Category B: Southern Low Countries
16th century Saints
Religious scenes

Mary Magdalen stands in an open portico in front of an Italian landscape. Her hair is for the most part uncovered and bound with translucent ribbons and veils, after the Italian fashion. Her clothing has a horizontal neckline and broad sleeves, made from precious material and detailed with fur on the collar. She is richly clothed because she is to have come from a royal family (Golden Legend).
The painting has a rounded form, and this is reflected by the arch of the portico and the countenance and shoulders of the saint. This is peaceful and restorative for the viewer.
As a holy one, she is elevated above the landscape and the earth, but still remains human. She is an individual, worldly and elegant, steeped in thought. Here she is not traditionally presented as a sinner or penitent. She holds a jar of ointment, her usual attribute.