On the Sunday morning after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene visited the tomb of Jesus, but found it empty. The story is recounted in the New Testament (John 20), and Mary Magdalene is here identified by the pot of ointment with which she anointed Christ's body, and by the glimpse of her traditional red dress beneath a silver-grey cloak. She was the first person to see Christ after the Resurrection.

Several other versions of this composition by Savoldo are known. The landscape background appears to represent Venice and its lagoon.


  • Title: Mary Magdalene
  • Creator: Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo
  • Date Created: about 1535-40
  • Physical Dimensions: 89.1 x 82.4 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • School: Italian (North)
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG1031
  • Artist Dates: about 1480 - about 1548
  • Artist Biography: Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo was born in Brescia. In 1508 he was in Florence, but thereafter he was mainly in Venice (except for a visit to Milan, 1532-4). His output was not great. His pictures are mostly of single figures against landscape backgrounds. The draperies of the figures are usually the most striking element, showing the light on the reflective textiles. Some of his pictures, such as 'Mary Magdalene' are known in a number of versions. The realism of his paintings is thought to have influenced Caravaggio.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1878

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