Rogier van der Weyden 1399/1400 – 1464
Mary Magdalene (1445)
oil on panel (101 × 35 cm) — c. 1445 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
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This is the left panel of Van der Weyden's Crucifixion triptych. Mary Magdalene, in mourning attire, her face heavy with grief. This Magdalene differs vastly from the one Van der Weyden will paint five years later (shown here).
One look at background and we can see that landscape-painting was not one of Rogier's greater gifts. Mary's face, on the other hand, testifies to Rogier's remarkable talent for expressing emotions.
Mary is holding her usual attribute, a jar of ointment. This attribute may be the result of a case of mistaken identities, i.e. the assumption that Mary Magdalene is the Mary who anointed Jesus' feet. According to John John this lady was a different Mary altogether: Mary of Bethany.
Luke describes the same scene as John, but much earlier in the Gospel. He too mentions no names, which is probably what contributed further to the misunderstanding.
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