Description The penitence of Mary Magdalene, presented in Christian teaching as a prostitute who turned to Christ, was popular in the 16th to 18th centuries as a morally uplifting Christian subject intended for the residential sphere. However, besides the positive example she offered of someone who rejected a life of sin and to whom little cherubs descend to award a martyr’s crown, she could also be depicted in a calculatedly erotic fashion: a beautiful young woman, breast exposed to accentuate her vulnerability as well as sexuality, kneeling in a dark wilderness setting. So the male viewer could enjoy her charms and feel pious, both at the same time! For more information on this painting, please see Federico Zeri's 1976 catalogue no. 441, p. 552.
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1897 catalogue: no. 276, as Rondoni]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Inscription] Name on stretcher: Francesco Maria Rondani
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902
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