Rome, c.1599 oil on copper
With the Counter Reformation came renewed focus on penitence and morality, and paintings that reflected these themes became popular. Mary Magdalene, thought to be a former prostitute, is shown in meditation on her sins. Her beauty is a reminder of the sexuality that she has renounced, while her sorrowful tears, heavenwards gaze and retreat into the wilderness signal her sincere penitence.
Cambridge, The Fitzwilliam Museum
Given by the Friends of The Fitzwilliam Museum, with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund, now the Art Fund, and the Victoria and Albert through Grant-in- Aid, 1976