Figure Of The Magdalene

Vincent Nanques

French, 17th century

Figure of the Magdalene, n.d.

  • On View

Olive wood

Dimensions: 16 × 38 × 17 in. (40.6 × 96.5 × 43.2 cm)

Gift of Viola E. Bray, 2005.150

Prior to the 1570s, the New Testament figure of Mary Magdalene was usually depicted as a beautiful, richly attired woman holding the jar of ointment she used to anoint Christ’s feet. During the Counter-Reformation, she was represented more frequently as a penitent sinner dressed in humble clothing with long, disheveled hair. The sculptor has included all the elements of her penance: a coarse basket-weave gown with heavy chain, a scourge with six-pointed star, a cross to contemplate Christ’s sacrifice, and a skull, which was an image used by the Catholic Church to encourage devotion to the sacrament of penance.The artist, Vincent Nanques, signed this work on the back of the sculpture. While it is known that he was working during this time period, no other works by him have surfaced.

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