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Saint Mary Magdalene


The story of Mary Magdalene is famous - she is the repenting prostitute that Jesus saves. She becomes one of the most devoted followers of him and was sanctified - therefore becoming Saint Mary Magdalene. After the crucifixion of Christ, she fled Jerusalem and sailed across the Mediterranean on a rudderless, wooden boat (refugee crisis, anyone?) where she lived in caves as a hermit for thirty years. She did not wear clothes, eat or drink , instead all she did was pray, and everyday a choir of angels would lift her up to the heavens. An allusion to her being a hermit is the reason why she is portrayed naked. Originally the statue would have been hung by the ceiling and surrounded by angels. 

This painting is in the threshold of the Renaissance and Gothic painting styles. This work was done in Germany, Augsburg. The thrust of her hip and the proportions reveals that the artist had knowledge of Albrecht Durer's work on proportions and measurement. The Gothic tradition made saints looks very thin, elongated and unhuman. This is not that, her figure is very human, sensual and realistic (yet still idealized, she reminds us of the roman goddess of beauty Venus coming out of the sea in a shell).