Penitent Mary Magdalene1664. Wood, 171 x 52 cm.
Mary Magdalene contemplates a crucifix she holds in her left hand. Her right hand is on her bosom, indicating her love and devotion to Jesus Christ. Her narrow, expressive face, sad gaze and slightly open mouth are framed by long hair that drapes across her back, shoulders and bust. The movement begun by her left foot is softened by a rough, rigid habit of palm fibers that hides this saint's anatomy. This is one of the finest examples of the realistic language of Spanish Baroque sculpture, steeped in emotion and religiosity. Such representations of Mary Magdalene were enormously popular during the seventeenth century as personifications of the concept of Christian repentance. Despite its being an iconography rarely used in the Andalusian school, it was much accepted in Castile, and various similar examples are known. It was made for the casa profesa of the Jesuits in Madrid during a voyage Pedro de Mena made from Granada to the Court in the mid sixteen sixties.