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A Modern Magdalen

William Merritt Chaseabout 1888

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In his title, Chase refers to the Biblical figure of Mary Magdalen, a follower of Christ who traditionally was depicted as a reformed prostitute, usually beautiful and sometimes nude. Chase's model turns away from the viewer, her virtue implied by her modest pose. Her modernity is revealed in the contemporary setting-the Asian fabrics that surround her were the height of fashion in 1888.

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