The Magdalen (?)

The ointment jar is the attribute of the Magdalen, but this may be a portrait of a woman represented in the guise of the saint. Her necklace appears to be ornamented with scourges and her bracelets have a suggestion of manacles.

According to the 19th-century label on the back of the panel the 'sitter' is 'Mary Tudor, Queen of France' (1496? - 1533), the daughter of Henry VII. Other suggested identifications include Eleanor of Austria and her younger sister Catherine. None of these theories has been convincingly confirmed.

This appears not to have been painted in a purely Netherlandish style. It may be Portuguese or French in origin.

Key facts

Full title
The Magdalen (?)
Date made
about 1520
Medium and support
Oil on oak
41.3 x 32.4 cm
Acquisition credit
Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number
Location in Gallery