The penitent Magdalene (B. Strozzi)

La Maddalena penitente (B. Strozzi)

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Author/ School/ Dating:

Bernardo Strozzi, detto il Cappuccino (Campo Ligure o Genova, 1582 - Venezia, 1644)

Technique and Dimensions:

Oil on canvas, cm. 97 x 73


Genova, Musei di Strada Nuova - Palazzo Bianco, inv. PB 501


From 1945 in the collections from the Oratory of S. Silvestro

Bernardo Strozzi painted this suggestive penitent Magdalene for the convent of San Silvestro, as evidenced by an ancient inscription on the back of the painting. The Saint, released from her luxurious clothes, appears wrapped in a jagged wisteria grey cloth. It is emaciated in the face and scarmilled, the eyes are hollowed and reddened by long penance, the skull in the foreground to remind her of the transience of the world and the jar of ointments with which she sprinkled the feet of Christ relegated to the left margin of the painting. The composition expresses a strong pathos and emotional involvement. The figure is defined by the artist’s chromatic ability in the sharp outlines against the light: note, for example, the beautiful play of light between the fingers of the folded hands or the glares on the cheek of the saint, on the top of the skull and on the silver of the ointment jar.