Mary Magdalene as Melancholy

Artemisia Gentileschi's artistic output includes different versions of "Mary Magdalene as Melancholy," which was created between 1622 and 1625.

María Magdalena como la Melancolía (1622/1625) by Artemisa GentileschiMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

In this depiction of Mary Magdalene, the painter—who was raped in 1611—may have been expressing her own emotional state.

The work in the Soumaya Museum bears a great resemblance to the canvas painting kept in the Treasury at the Cathedral of Seville, in Spain. Both pieces are examples of the powerful Baroque chiaroscuro technique, echoing the works of Caravaggio.

The penitent saint has a rounded face, a stylized nose, and large eyes that are tired from crying.

With reddened eyes, her face seeks consolation on her hand, and her pose of surrender legitimizes her letting go of decorum in favor of suffering as a result of the loss of Jesus.

The perfume bottle on the side is characteristic of Mary of Bethany, and its iconographic significance is mistakenly associated with Mary Magdalene for the anointing of Jesus's feet.

In the opinion of art historian Mary Garrard, this work was undoubtedly created by the brush of Artemisia Gentileschi, and her "Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting" was also derived from it […].

Researcher Guillermo Tovar de Teresa saw the crease between the protagonist's arm and armpit as an allusion to sex. As Father Philippe de la Rosière said, the voluptuousness is transformed upon contemplation.

In delicate drapery, Magdalene, in an abyss of tears, offers up her charm and voluptuousness to anyone who looks at her.

Credits: Story

Based on texts from the monthly magazine: "María Magdalena en el Arte" (Mary Magdalene in Art), by Francesca Conti and Mónica López Velarde, May 2019; and "Mujeres en el Arte" (Women in Art), by Alfonso Miranda Márquez, May 2018. Soumaya Museum, Carlos Slim Foundation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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