Skip to main content
The Magdalen Reading
Rogier van der Weyden

A young lady in an extravagant green dress sits on the floor, reading. Although she wears fifteenth-century clothing and is in a medieval room, she is a biblical figure: Saint Mary Magdalene. The pot of oil with which she anointed Christ’s feet – the object traditionally associated with her – stands on the floor beside her casting a strong shadow. Her figure forms a semi-circle, with her head and legs curving around her bent knees, emphasising her absorption in her book.

This painting was originally the lower right corner of what must have been a large altarpiece of the Virgin and Child with saints, painted for a church in Brussels. You can see part of a man behind Mary while another kneels to the left; his toes poke out from under his voluminous red robe.

Key facts
Artist Rogier van der Weyden
Artist dates about 1399 - 1464
Full title The Magdalen Reading
Date made before 1438
Medium and support Oil on mahogany, transferred from another panel
Dimensions 62.2 x 54.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG654
Location in Gallery Room 63
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

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.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Download low resolution image

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

Creative Commons Logo