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This is one of the earliest dated works of David Teniers the Younger, dated 1634. With its pendant, Saint Peter in Penitence, the painting appears in a view of Teniers's studio painted in 1635.

Details

  • Title: St. Mary Magdalen in Penitence
  • Date: c.1634
  • Physical Dimensions: w524 x h313 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: Flemish
  • Support: Panel
  • Provenance: London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: D. TENIER Iv
  • Further Information: This miniature by David Teniers the Younger is of St Mary Magdalen in Penitence, who is shown in isolated contemplation in a barren landscape. It is in a similar format to the version of St Peter by the same artist, also in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, however, whether they were created as a pair is debatable. The combination of St Peter and St Mary Magdalen is not unusual: both had erred before becoming saints, and both had tried to atone for their sins through contemplation and life in the desert. However, in both paintings the figure sits on the left, and do not form balancing compositions. In Italian art Mary Magdalen is usually shown almost or completely unclothed but covered by long unkempt hair. In the North, however, she was normally shown clothed or semi-clothed as here. Her youthfulness, melancholy expression, and the cross in the distance indicate that she has just begun her isolation. The Magdalen was considered a worthy role model for women and was frequently invoked as an intercessor. She was also a popular topos for portraits of aristocratic women, and I may have been such a client that originally commissioned the work.
  • Artist: Teniers, David the younger
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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