Mary Magdalene presses her arms across her body, peering longingly towards heaven, as tears roll down her cheeks. Is her countenance one of sorrowful repentance or spiritual ecstasy? She is positioned in front of a verdant grotto giving way to open landscape. At the bottom left of the picture is a small ampoule with Titian’s signature above, as well as a skull at center supporting open scriptures. These objects are symbols of her repentance.

Titian executed several versions of this subject. The present version, with its moralizing message, is likely in response to the reforms declared by Council of Trent (1545-63). The council encouraged religious artworks to express piety, modesty and devotion. Sent to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1567, the canvas presents small traces of restorations undertaken centuries ago.


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