Saint Mary Magdalene on Alabaster

  • This rare and important 17th-century original oil on alabaster depicts the Saint Mary Magdalene
  • Superb pietre dure hardstone inlays mingle with Roman silver and an ebonized wood frame
  • The incredible work is based on Baroque painter Guido Reni’s 1633 "Saint Mary Magdalene" masterpiece
  • Though unknown, the artist may have been Reni himself who frequently reproduced this painting
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-0484

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This incredibly rare 17th-century oil on alabaster depicts the Saint Mary Magdalene, rendered after Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni’s masterpiece of the same name. Saint Mary Magdalene gazes upward towards the heavens in a penitent pose, as two putti-like cherubs float above. Depicted with luxurious, long hair draped over her body — symbolizing the saint’s inherent sensuality — her outstretched hand rests on the iconic skull that faithfully accompanies her likeness in religious art. Surrounding this magnificent painting are superb pietre dure hardstone inlays of jasper, agate and lapis lazuli, mingled with Roman silver on an ebonized wood frame.

One of his most popular subjects in the 1620s and 1630s, Mary Magdalene was something of an iconographic specialty for Reni, who executed various versions to please a public that prized them and continually requested them. Reni’s original 1633 Saint Mary Magdalene canvas on which this oil on alabaster is based was painted for Cardinal Antonio Santacroce and now resides in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome. A similar, smaller oil on canvas depicting Mary Magdalene predates this original to 1627 and was formerly housed in the Barberini collection in Rome.

Guido Reni was born in Bologna in 1575 and rose to be the most famous Italian painter of his generation. Though considered a master of the Baroque, Reni’s work showcases a singular classical style that made an indelible mark on the course of art. Active in Rome, Naples and his native Bologna, he became the dominant figure in the Bolognese School that emerged under the influence of early-Baroque master painter and printmaker Carracci. Through his career, Reni collected a robust roster of patrons who were Cardinals and other wealthy clergy of the Vatican papacy. Thus, the Baroque artist is best known for his prolific oeuvre of religious works, though he also had an affinity for mythological and allegorical subjects. His oils and frescoes can be found in the basilicas, churches and palaces of Rome, Naples and Bologna, including the Paoline Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome as well as the Aldobrandini wings of the Vatican.

Italian, 17th Century

Frame: 13 3/4” high x 12 3/4” wide

References:
Guido Reni: L'Opera Completa, Novara 1988, by S. Pepper, pp. 335-36, cat. no. 28 (illustrated)
Saint Mary Magdalene on Alabaster
Period: Pre-18th Century
Origin: Italy
Type: Other Fine Art
Depth: 1.5 Inches
Width: 12.75 Inches
Height: 13.75 Inches
Style: Baroque

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