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Penitent Magdalen
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
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Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto

Játiva, Valencia, 1591 - Naples, 1652

Miniatura autor See author's file

Penitent Magdalen

1641. Oil on canvas

Traditionally identified as the woman who was a sinner and wept on Christ’s feet and wiped away her tears with her hair (Luke 7:36-50), Mary Magdalene is shown here as the hermit saint she became upon giving up her life of moral decadence, after her encounter with the Savior. She kneels in prayer at the entrance to her cave and raises her eyes to heaven, eyes that are perhaps disproportionately large but that are emphatically windows to her redeemed soul and that also heighten her feminine allure. She is dressed in rough plaited straw, yet her violet satin sleeve and spectacular red silk drape suggest a former life of luxury. On the stone steps to the right are a whip for self-flagellation, and a jar of ointment, which recalls both the perfume with which she anointed Christ´s feet and the expensive spices she took to his tomb on Easter morning to embalm his corpse. The skull enveloped in shadow at the right beside the blasted tree trunk helps her meditate on her own mortality. Her attribute par excellence in this painting, however, is her long, flowing golden head of hair: it falls generously around her naked shoulder and down by her side beneath her waist, alluding to the scandalous gesture of love she showed toward Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisse. Ribera’s fascination with long hair is apparent in all his Magdalenes, from the early Raising of Lazarus to the Crucifixion in Osuna; in all his Lamentations and Pietàs; and in his representations of the Immaculate Virgin and his Saint Agnes. Ribera rarely shows nudity in his paintings. His Magdalenes almost never reveal their breasts, and even his Venuses are fully clad; yet the sensual nature of the saint is eloquently expressed here through her spectacular mane of hair, the golden highlights of the rich and dense curls painted in impastoed strokes of intense yellow.

The painting is among a group of eight full-length single-figure composition of saints by Ribera that in 1658 were in the Madrid collection of Don Jerónimo de la Torre, a member of the Royal Council and secretary of State of Flanders. The series included four pictures that are now in the Prado -this Mary Magdalene, Saint John the Baptist in the Desert, Saint Mary of Egipt, and Saint Bartholomew- and for others, of Saints Onophrius, Paul the Hermit, Agnes, and Sebastian. The entailed collection to which these pictures belonged was dispersed from 1718 on, and the four Prado paintings are subsequently recorded in the 1772 inventory of the Palacio Real in Madrid as having recently entered the royal collection from that of the Marqués de los Llanos, almost certainly Gabriel de Olmedo y Aguilar (1704-1758). The Magdalene is mistakenly identified there as the rarely represented Saint Thais, a wealthy and beautiful courtesan in fourth-century Egypt who converted to a strictly penitent monastic life. This error was probably due, as suggested by Alfonso Pérez Sánchez, to some devout and overly erudite eighteen-century scholar milling around the palace; surprisingly, the identification was honored at the Prado as late as 1996. It was previously thought that the Prado series had been conceived as a quartet that paired off two young male and female saints, John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene (or Thais), with an older pair, Bartholomew and Mary of Egypt; now that we know that these paintings formed part of a larger group, the idea should be abandoned.

Sometime between 1718 and 1772, the four paintings now in the Prado had a strip of canvas about 20 inches (50 cm) wide added to the left or right side, rendering each one almost square in format, presumably for decorative purposes. In 1991, in preparing for the great Ribera exhibition held at the Prado the following year, Mary Magdalene was cleaned and restored, and the signature and the date revealed; the added strip was removed from the right side of the original canvas. During the 1990´s, the tree other paintings were restored to their original dimensions. The X-radiograph of Mary Magdalene shows that Ribera painted with vigor and confidence, and made no changes in the composition as he worked. The brighter area around the Magdalene´s head, which sets it off against the dark background, was laid in late in the execution, and the top of the tree trunk was painted over this.

A workshop replica is in the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao (oil on canvas, 77 x 58 3/4 in., 195.5 x 148 cm). It copies the format, color and composition of the Prado painting faithfully, but does not show the quality of Ribera´s own hand.

Finaldi, G, J. de Ribera 'Mary Magdalene' In. Jusepe de Ribera's Mary Magdalene in a new context, Meadows, Southern Methodist U., 2011, p.104-105, nº1

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Technical data

Related artworks

Saint Bartholomew
Oil on canvas, 1641
Saint Mary of Egypt
Oil on canvas, 1641
Inventory number
P001103
Author
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
Title
Penitent Magdalen
Date
1641
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 182 cm.; Width: 149 cm.
Series
Serie de Santos Penitentes
Provenance
Royal Collection (colección marqués de los Llanos; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de conversación de la serenísima infanta, 1772, s.n.; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de vestir, 1794, s.n.; Palacio Real, Madrid, [1ª] pieza de vestir, 1814-1818, s.n.).

Bibliography +

Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real, Madrid, 1772, pp. ?.

Inventario. Real Palacio de Madrid. 1814, Madrid, 1814, pp. ?.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Madrid, 1834, pp. 17.

Viñaza, Cipriano Muñoz y ManzanoConde de, Adiciones al diccionario histórico de los mas ilustres profe, III, [s.n.], Madrid, 1894, pp. 310.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo ilustrado de la Sala de Velázquez en el Museo del Prado, J. Laurent y Cia., Fotógrafos Editores, Madrid, 1899, pp. 5.

Mayer, A. L., Jusepe de Ribera. 'Lo Spagnoletto', Karl W. Hiersemann, Leipzig, 1923, pp. 142/lám. 7.

Artiles Rodríguez, Jenaro, Una rica colección artística en Madrid (siglo XVII), Revista de la biblioteca, archivo y museo. Ayuntamiento de Madrid, V, 1928, pp. 85 n.4.

Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué, Ribera, [Hispanic Society of America], Nueva York, 1952, pp. 88/lám. 35.

Ceán Bermúdez, Juan Agustín, Diccionario histórico de los más ilustres profesores de las Bellas Artes en España, Reales Academias de Bellas Artes de San Fernando y de la Historia, Madrid, 1965, pp. 191.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España., VI, Madrid, 1972, pp. 31.

Cajide, I., Exposición de Pintura Española desde el Renacimiento hasta nuestros días, 21 Century Hyogo Project, Hyogo, 1976.

La peinture espagnole du siècle d'or: de Greco a Velazquez, Association Française d'Action Artistique, París, 1976.

The Golden Age of Spanish Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, Londres, 1976, pp. 48.

Spinosa, Nicola., La obra pictórica completa de Ribera /, Noguer, Barcelona. Madrid, 1978, pp. 117.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, El arte y los sistemas visuales: el barroco, ISTMO, Madrid, 1982, pp. 242.

Jusepe de Ribera: lo Spagnoletto, 1591-1652, Washington University Press, Fort Worth, 1982, pp. 58/lám. 36.

Jacobo de VorágineBeato, La leyenda dorada, II, Alianza, Madrid, 1982, pp. 655-657.

Prinz Von Hohenzollern, J.G., Von Greco Bis Goya. Vier Jahrhunderte Spanische Malerei, Haus Der Kunst, Munich, 1982, pp. 250.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 554.

Réau, Louis1881-1961, Iconographie de L'Art Chretien. T. I. Introduction Generale, Kraus Reprint, Millwood, 1988.

Fernandez Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales. Carlos III. 1789-1790. Vol. I, I, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988, pp. 18.

Du Greco a Goya: chefs-d'oeuvre du Prado et de collections e, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1989, pp. 56.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Benito Domènech, Fernando, Ribera, 1591-1652, Bancaja, Valencia, 1991, pp. 138.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E. (1935-2010)), Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652 /, Electa, Napoles, 1992, pp. 246.

Ribera : (1591-1652) /, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 354.

Ribera, 1591-1652, Fundación Social y Cultural Kutxa, San Sebastian, 1993.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 96.

Zafra, Rafael, Emblemata aúrea: la emblemática en el arte y la literatura d, Akal, Madrid, 2000, pp. 215/lám. 7.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura barroca española: guía, Museo Nacional del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 70.

Portús, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 80.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera, Electa, Napoli, 2003, pp. 324.

Weniger, Matthias, Greco, Velazquez, Goya : Spanische Malereiaus Deutschen Sam..., Prestel, 2005, pp. 146.

El Greco, Velazquez, Goya :five centuries of spanish master..., Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, pp. 44.

De Tiziano a Goya: grandes maestros del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado: SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 216.

Tamarit Sumalle, R, Maria Magdalena dins lúnivers barroc entre al flor i l´extasi, Ars longa, 17, 2008, pp. 63.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera: la obra completa, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2008, pp. 447.

De Vito, Giuseppe, Juan Do, collaboratore di Ribera, Ricerche sul '600 napoletano, 2010-2011, pp. 47-51 [47].

Finaldi, G, J. de Ribera 'Mary Magdalene' In, Jusepe de Ribera's Mary Magdalene in a new context, Meadows, Southern Methodist U., 2011, pp. 104-105, nº1.

Finaldi, G, 'Ribera paints the Magdalene' In:, Jusepe de Ribera's Mary Magdalene in a new context, Meadows, Southern Methodist U., 2011, pp. 28-32..

de Carlos Varona, M. C., Saints and sinners in Madrid and Naples: Saint Mary Magdalene as a model of conversion and penance. In, Jusepe de Ribera's Mary Magdalene in a new context, Meadows, Southern Methodist U., 2011, pp. 79-89.

Portmann, Maria., L' image du corps dans l' art espagnol aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles, 2014, pp. 111-115 f.53.

Cruz Yábar, Juan María, Los cuadros de Ribera de don Jerónimo de la Torre y su capilla funeraria en el convento de los Àngeles de Madrid., Goya: Revista de Arte, 349, 2014, pp. 290-307 [298,300-301,302-304 f.5].

Tormo y Monzó, E., Ribera en el Museo del Prado, Hijos de J.Thomas, Barcelona, pp. 15/lám. 43.

Other inventories +

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. s. n..
Pieza de conversacion de la Serma. Infanta [...] {12927} [s. n.] = Nuevas del Marques de los Llanos = Quatro iguales que son san Bartolome Apostol san Juan Bautista santa Maria Egipciaca y santa Tade de dos varas y quarta en quadro original de Joseph Ribera

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Pieza de Bestir [...] {63} Otros quatro [quadros] de dos varas y quarta en quadro: Sn. Juan Bautista, Sn. Bartolomè Apostol, Stª. Maria Egipciaca, y Stª. Maria Magdalena: Rivera ... 80.000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
[1ª] Pieza de vestir [...] {21201} Dos varas y quarta en quadro = 4 = San Juan Bautista San Bartolome Santa Maria Egipciaca Santa Maria Magdalena = Ribera

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 243.
Ribera / 243. Santa María Magadalena / Está en el desierto, orando de rodillas, con las palmas unidas y apoyando un codo sobre una piedra. Cubren su cuerpo un manto carmesí y una túnica desgarrada y parte de su pecho un trozo de estera vieja. (C.N.). / Alto 6 pies, 6 pulg; ancho 7 pies.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 980.
La Magdalena penitente. / Alto 1,81. Ancho 1,95.-Lienzo. / Suelta la madeja del sedoso cabello, despedazadas sobre el delicado cuerpo sus antiguas galas, mal cubierto éste con una túnica cenicienta, un manto rojo de jayante seda ya deslustrado, y por aditamento un pedazo de estera, que sirve de cilicio á su blando seno, está la Santa penitente en oracion, de rodillas y con las manos juntas, apoyando el codo izquierdo en unos sillares de piedra, al pié de los cuales se ven el vaso del bálsamo con que ungió los pies del Salvador amado, y las disciplinas con que maltrata su hermosura...

Exhibitions +

The Prado at the Meadows. 2011
Dallas
18.09.2011 - 15.01.2012

Luca Giordano in the Casón del Buen Retiro
Madrid
21.02.2008 - 01.06.2008

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
Shanghai
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
Beijing
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

Desde El Greco hasta Goya - Budapest
Budapest
26.01.2006 - 14.05.2006

Intercambio Georges de la Tour
Nantes
08.06.1994 - 07.08.1994

Ribera
San Sebastián
24.07.1993 - 05.09.1993

José de Ribera
Madrid
02.06.1992 - 16.08.1992

José de Ribera
Nápoles
27.02.1992 - 17.05.1992

Obras maestras de la Pintura Española: del Siglo de Oro a Goya
Ginebra
14.06.1989 - 24.09.1989

Location +

Room 009 (On Display)

Expuesto

Displayed objects +

Ointment pot: .151.72.

Update date: 16-07-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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