Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Donatello’s ‘Penitent Magdalene’ is surrounded by a sense of timelessness

By Tom L. Freudenheim
The sculpture seems far from the competing creative egos of the time. PHOTO: DEAGOSTINI/GETTY IMAGES
NEW YORK---A rich literary and visual tradition surrounds Mary Magdalene, one of Christianity’s most elusive figures. She is described in the Gospel of St. Luke as the woman “who lived a sinful life…[and] stood behind [Jesus] at his feet weeping [and] began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” After reciting one of his parables, Jesus told her “your sins are forgiven.” Among the most sublime and emotionally resonant figures in all of Italian Renaissance art, Donatello’s “Penitent Magdalene” appears to have been inspired more by the various biblical texts (she is mentioned in all four Gospels) than by earlier visual versions, of which there are many. [link]

Donatello’s “Penitent Magdalene” (1453-55), now in Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum)