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Workshop of Master of the Magdalen Legend, The Magdalen Weeping

Key facts
Full title The Magdalen Weeping
Artist Workshop of Master of the Magdalen Legend
Artist dates active about 1483 - 1527
Date made about 1525
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 52.7 × 38.1 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3116
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Magdalen Weeping
Workshop of Master of the Magdalen Legend

This is Saint Mary Magdalene, one of Christ’s followers, identifiable from the pot of expensive ointment with which she anointed Christ’s feet. This painting was once joined to another panel, and was probably the left wing of a triptych (a painting made of three parts).

Mary’s dress is cloth-of-gold with a purple design. Over it, she wears a second dress, open at the front and laced across the other under her breasts. The upper sleeves, now green, were once purple. Her fair hair is covered with a patterned cap and two veils, one semi-transparent, one white. The colourful clothes and expensive textiles allude to her sinful past, although the sleeves and shape of the veil bear some relation to contemporary fashions.

We don't know the name of the artist but he is called the Master of the Magdalen Legend after a large triptych, now broken up, showing episodes from the life of Mary Magdalene, probably painted in the mid-1520s. This painting is close to the triptych in style.

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