Penitent Magdelene, c. 1650–65

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Tradition holds that Saint Mary Magdalene, a close follower of Jesus Christ, retreated to a cave in penitence during the final years of her life. Here, she clutches her purple robes and looks up at the bright divine light that falls upon her. Two attributes, or identifying symbols, of the saint are displayed on the rock next to her: the skull, a reminder of the inevitability of death, and the cross, a symbol of her personal devotion to Christ and his teachings. The markings at the bottom of the canvas, the number 629 and the fleur-de-lis symbol, indicate that this painting was item number 629 in the royal inventory of Queen Isabella Farnese of Spain.

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Details
Title
Penitent Magdelene
Artist Life
1618–1682
Role
Artist
Accession Number
82.23
Curator Approved

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