Skip to main content

Probably Spanish, The Magdalen (?)

Key facts
Full title The Magdalen (?)
Artist Probably Spanish
Date made early 16th century
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 41.3 × 32.4 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2615
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Magdalen (?)
Probably Spanish

The ointment jar the woman holds is an attribute of Mary Magdalene, but this seems to be a portrait of a woman in the guise of the saint. The sitter’s hairstyle and distinctive necklace can be associated with early sixteenth-century medals and specifically with an anonymous portrait of the Spanish Queen Isabella I of Castile in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The sitter’s identity is not known: a nineteenth-century label on the back of the picture identifies her as Mary Tudor, while other suggestions have included Marie of Anjou, Eleanor of Austria and the latter’s sister Catherine.

The edges of a book are visible underneath the ointment jar, indicating that the woman was not originally conceived as the Magdalen. Although Netherlandish in style, this painting was probably produced by a Spanish or Portuguese artist influenced by Netherlandish art. The panel’s thick gesso ground is more commonly found in paintings from southern Europe.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo