Jan van Scorel 1495 – 1562

Mary Magdalene

oil on panel (67 × 76 cm) — c. 1530 Museum Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Jan van Scorel biography

This work is linked to Luke 8:2

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Van Scorel had just returned from Italy when he painted this work. Italian influences are visible in the landscape and in the figure of Mary Magdalene, who resembles a Venetian courtesan.

The tree springing from the decayed trunk symbolizes a new life after a bad start: Mary Magdalene has converted to become a follower of Jesus.

In the background, in front of the overhanging rock, Mary is being borne up to Heaven. The landscape resembles that of southern France. According to tradition, Mary lived there after she left Jerusalem.

The top plank of this panel, with the sky and tree branches, was added in the second half of the 16th century. That part was not painted by Van Scorel.

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