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Albert Cornelis, The Magdalen in a Landscape

Key facts
Full title The Magdalen in a Landscape
Artist Albert Cornelis
Artist dates active 1512; died 1531
Date made about 1520
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 41.4 × 32.2 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2585
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Magdalen in a Landscape
Albert Cornelis

Mary Magdalene, wearing a red mantle over a startlingly see-through dress, kneels in prayer in a landscape. A splendid manuscript, presumably a Book of Hours, rests on a large, conveniently shaped rock in front of her. Although she is gazing inwards, her eyes unfocused, the object of her prayer appears before her: an angel holds a large wooden Crucifix from which hangs the dead Christ.

She appears again in the middle ground, reclining in front of a grotto. Mary Magdalene was one of Christ’s followers who, according to legend, ended her life in Provence. She lived for 30 years at La Sainte-Baume, east of Marseille (baoumo is a Provençal word for cave) – a popular pilgrimage site in the Renaissance. Her pose copies that of a statue displayed at La Sainte-Baume, images of which must have been available in Bruges, where this small panel was probably made.

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