In the year 1490, Riemenschneider was commissioned to make a large retable, complete with carved figures, for the choir of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the parish church of Münnerstadt an der Rhön. In 1492 the work was installed, but as a monochrome retable, i.e. without the paint and gilding that were customary at the time. In 1504/05, however, through the polychromy added by Nuremberg sculptor Veit Stoss, the work experienced a fundamental change. The Berlin relief is from the left wing panel and illustrates the grace shown to Mary Magdalene as a reward for putting her earlier life of sin behind her: according to the Gospels, it was to her that Christ first appeared, even before the Apostles, after his resurrection on Easter morning. Here we see the moment when she recognizes him but is forbidden to touch him.


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