Mary Magdalen was thought to have been a woman of sin, who retreated to a life of piety and penitence following her contact with Jesus Christ. Images of the Magdalen typically accentuated her appeal as a beautiful young woman, but also included such items as the crucifix and the prayer book,...
Mary Magdalen was thought to have been a woman of sin, who retreated to a life of piety and penitence following her contact with Jesus Christ. Images of the Magdalen typically accentuated her appeal as a beautiful young woman, but also included such items as the crucifix and the prayer book, representing her solitary and virtuous existence. Fetti stresses the intensity of the Magdalen's devotion through his expressive treatment of her fluttering garments and clasped hands, and by representing her from below, as if she has already begun to ascend to the heavens.
By 1787 until before 1855, possibly the Ducal Gallery (Galleria Estense), Modena, Italy [see note 1]. By 1953, private collection, Modena [see note 2]. 1978, Edoardo Testori, Milan; 1979, sold by Testori to an unknown dealer, Milan [see note 3]. December 12, 1979, anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 93, to Somerville and Simpson, Ltd., London, for the MFA. (Accession Date: November 14, 1979) NOTES:  In the 1979 Sotheby's catalogue, this painting was tentatively identified with the "Santa Maria Maddalena contemplante il cielo, mezza figura al naturale dipinta in tela con molto espressione" by Fetti described at the Ducal Gallery, Modena, in 1787 (see "Descrizione delle pitture del Ducale Appartamento," 3d ed. [Modena, 1787); in his "Artisti Italiani e Stranieri negli Stati Estensi" (Modena, 1855), G. Campori describes this work as formerly in the Modena Gallery.  Roberto Longhi, "Antologia di artisti," Paragone 1953: 51-53, fig. 32.  According to information provided by Edoardo Testori to the MFA (correspondence of June 19, 1982 and April 18, 2013), before he owned it, the painting belonged to the Marchese Pignatti Morano di Custoza, Modena,and before that to the Coccapani Imperiali collection. Testori thought that the Coccapani Imperiali were connected to the Gonzaga with the implication that the painting passed from the collection of the Dukes of Mantua to that of the Coccapani Imperiali. If that were indeed true, (further research needed) the transfer would have taken place sometime before 1707, when the House Of Gonzaga became extinct. The possible terminus ante quem of 1707 for the change of ownership would explain why no Fetti ":Magdalene" appears in 18th and 19th century catalogues and histories of the Galleria Estense.
Charles Potter Kling Fund