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Workshop of the Master of the Magdalen Legend, The Magdalen

Key facts
Full title The Magdalen
Artist Workshop of the Master of the Magdalen Legend
Artist dates active about 1483 - 1527
Date made about 1510
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 30 × 20.3 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2614
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Magdalen
Workshop of the Master of the Magdalen Legend

Saint Mary Magdalene is identified by her emblem, the covered pot containing the ointment with which she anointed Christ.

This small panel is one of at least twelve versions of this image. The others are very similar in size, style and technique and may have been mass produced by tracing in the same workshop. All are attributed to an artist known as the Master of the Magdalen Legend after a large dismembered triptych showing episodes from the life of Mary Magdalene, probably painted in the mid-1520s. The Master also painted The Magdalen Weeping (also in the National Gallery collection), which is considerably better drawn and painted.

The artist of this panel was a poor draughtsman: Mary’s cranium is too high and narrow, her eyes are not properly aligned, her nose is too far in profile and her hands are too small and look oddly boneless. But such faults do not preclude an attribution to the Master, who had no facility for drawing.

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