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The Magdalen
Young Palma (Jacopo Negretti)
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Young Palma (Jacopo Negretti)

Venice, 1544 - Venice, 1628

Young Palma (Jacopo Negretti) See author's file

The Magdalen

Early Finales del siglo XVI - XVII century. Wash, Pencil, Grey-brown ink on paper.
Not on display

Palma Giovane was one of the leading artists active in Venice at the turn of the century, his career continuing well into the second quarter of the century following. He was, moreover, among the most prolific draftsmen of the period. His drawing style reveals a number of important, mostly Venetian influences, ranging from Titian (c. 1485-1576) and Domenico Campagnola (1500-1564), to Tintoretto (1519-1594) and Veronese (1528-1588). Some influence of the technique of the Roman Taddeo Zuccaro (1529-1566) is also sometimes detectable. Palma Giovane´s favorite medium was pen and wash, of which this is a good example.

The present, finished compositional study of a Magdalen shows the saint seated on a rock in the desert. According to legend, she lived in retreat in a grotto at Saint-Baume in France. Her normal attribute, an ointment jar, which was filled with the unguent with which she anointed Christ´s feet, is absent. Nevertheless, unmistakably hers is the long hair that falls down as far as her waist and her wistful, penitential glance to the heavens. The Prado drawing shares a number of compositional features with Palma Giovane´s canvas of the Penitent Magdalen Kneeling in the Desert in the Accademia Carrara at Bergamo (inv. no. 414/990; Ivanoff and Zampetti, 1980, p. 529, no. 10, and p. 671, fig. 2), in which the figure of the saint is likewise semi-nude, with long, flowing hair and looks upwards to the right at the heavens. Besides showing the figure kneeling on the ground, the Bergamo picture has other differences, however, including the presence of a book and a skull on the top of the rock at the Magdalen´s side and a crucifix propped up in the top left. The Bergamo picture is datable to the painter´s mature period, and it is not impossible that the Prado drawing came into being as an off-shoot from this pictorial idea.

Although self-evident, it is worth calling attention all the same to Palma Giovane´s none-too-subtle hints in the Prado drawing at Titian´s splendid, but mostly secular, female nudes. Among these is the magnificent Venus Rising from the Sea in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, painted in c.1520-1525, one of the earlier master´s great mythological paintings, in which the goddess wrings her long soaking hair as she emerges from the deep. Palma Giovane´s treatment of his youthful, nude female saint seems unimaginable without this ideal of female beauty first met with in Titian´s paintings (Text drawn from Turner, N.: From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International-Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 150).

Technical data

Inventory number
Young Palma (Jacopo Negretti)
The Magdalen
Early Finales del siglo XVI - XVII century
Wash; Pencil; Grey-brown ink
Height: 280 mm; Width: 195 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de dibujos. Dibujos italianos del siglo XVI (por Nicholas Turner, con la colaboración de José Manuel Matilla), V, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 150, 327.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 150,327.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 1420.

Exhibitions +

De Miguel Ángel a Annibale Carracci. Un siglo de Dibujos Italianos en el Museo del Prado
25.10.2008 - 26.07.2009

Un siglo de dibujos italianos en el Museo del Prado. De Miguel Ángel a Annibale Carracci
23.11.2004 - 13.02.2005

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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