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I Love Mysteries

Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 18:43

....and this definitely has the makings of one. McLaren, the owner of a painting that "might" be a daVinci work says the word "Magdalene" is clearly written on a paper attached to the back of this painting.

Fiona McLaren, 59, had kept an old painting in her Scottish farmhouse for decades. She reportedly didn't think much of the painting, which had been given to her as a gift by her father. But after she finally decided to have the painting appraised, some experts are speculating that it may in fact be a 500-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci and potentially worth more than $150 million.

The Daily Mail says the painting may be of Mary Magdalene holding a young child. The painting is now undergoing further analysis by experts at the Cambridge University and the Hamilton Kerr Institute, who will attempt to uncover its exact age and origins.

A papal bull was found attached to the back of the painting and is believed to have originated from the era of Pope Paul V, head of the Catholic Church in the early 17th century. McLaren says the word "Magdalene," is visible on the faded paper.

Here is a link that might be useful: source of course


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RE: I Love Mysteries

Wow. Very cool.

Too bad she's not American; we could maybe tax her on that puppy.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 19:23

She will be taxed, not sure what the tax rate in the UK is, but someone here probably knows.

Meanwhile I hope the mystery of "Magdalene" is solved, if not Dan Brown has another book in the works :)


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It's funny but I don't recall any paintings of Mary Magdalene holding Baby Jesus (they were contemporaries). Wouldn't it be more like that it's his mother Mary? The baby to the left with the crook is St. John the Baptist - it looks like a typical Madonna and Child with John the Baptist to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Raphael - The Alba Madonna


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"Meanwhile I hope the mystery of "Magdalene" is solved, if not Dan Brown has another book in the works :)"

Good! I like Dan Brown's books. :)

"It's funny but I don't recall any paintings of Mary Magdalene holding Baby Jesus (they were contemporaries)."

But I don't think they are saying Magdalen w/baby Jesus; just with "infant".


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 19:55

Well the mystery of "Magdalene" is interesting, and there is a "lamb" at her feet that is missing in the Raphael Madonna.

Could very well be Mary and baby Jesus, but wonder why the name Magdalene is on the paper?

Like I said, a good mystery :)


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Baby John the Baptist (the "forerunner" of Christ) is often shown with Baby Jesus. The lamb in the foreground refers to John the Baptist's greeting to Jesus "Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world" and of course alludes to the sacrifice of the crucifixion. The background of the painting does not look very Leonardo-esque to me and Leonardo backgrounds are very distinctive.

I don't know why it says Magdalene - maybe Magdalene refers to the church it came from.


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I agree with Jerzeegirl. Her analysis was the same as mine would be since my educational background is in Art.

Symbolism is pretty rigid in paintings of Religious figures.


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I don't think Mary Magdalene would be painted with a halo - generally reserved for Jesus and/or the Virgin Mary. The background has a faint stylistic semblance to da Vinci's little gem, "Ginevra di Benci".

Would really be neat to be authenticated - there are so few da Vinci paintings in existence.


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it looks like a typical Madonna and Child with John the Baptist to me.

I didn't notice a halo above the child's head whereas the Maddalena and Giovanni Battista do have one.

Is the flower - doesn't seem to be a rose or lily - something usually associated with Mary Magdalene?


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She wouldn't be taxed unless she sells it, I think.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 21:54

The painting will be auctioned.

Y'all have a much better eye than me, yes there seems to be a halo around the head of the woman and the figure holding the cross (staff?) not sure what the flower is ... almost looks like a daisy, or a type of rose.

Thanks for responding :)


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There have been other Mary Magdalen with Infant Jesus I saw one years ago in an art history Class. I just looked it up it's by Corregio.

The Philip Gospel which is in Fragments
" They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."

The John the Baptist in it makes no sense as a metaphor & there is no meeting between John & Mary.

Interesting to say the least!


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Mary is often depicted holding a flower. The flower in this painting looks like a carnation which symbolizes love and life. She is usually associated with the lily and the rose. I linked to a painting by Leonardo which shows the Madonna holding a different kind of flower. I wish I could see the work in person to see if there is a faint halo around the child's head. The Child's halo is often lighter, probably a stylistic choice to avoid a big fat gold disc in front of the Madonna's face.

Here is a link that might be useful: Benois Madonna


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 22:53

If you click on the picture in my link maybe you can see it, that is how I was able to spot the two halos, but I cannot see one on the baby on her lap.


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The Christ Child does have a halo. If you look to the right of his head a little higher than his ear you will see a brown squiggle. That is one of the point of the halo. There appears to be another one at the top of his head. Like I said the Christ Child halo sometimes is more transparent to not interfere with the rest of the picture.

I love that painting, Labrea. Here's the rest of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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closer look

  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 23:04

Okay I actually downloaded the pic and enlarged, there is definitely two halos, but not on the infant on her lap. And the other figure is holding what is obviously a cross.


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Yes, John the Baptist is holding a shepherd's crook in the shape of a cross and it foreshadows the crucifixion just as the lamb does.

OM, what is that brown squiggle to the right of the Christ Child's ear. Can you tell what it is? Is there a similar squiggle right above his head too? My laptop screen is so small I can't see a thing! I just love the mystery of the iconography!


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 23:16

I see the squiggles ... not real sure it represents a halo or not. Apparently (from searching) there are other paintings showing John the Baptist with the Madonna and child and also a cross.

So now the mystery remains of the name "Magdalene".

Does this look similar to any of daVinci's works?

As you can tell I do not know much about it :)


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Okay; I see the woman has a halo and is looking down, not necessarily at the child in her lap. The child on the left, with the halo, is looking at her, and pointing at the lamb, which is looking at him. The child in the lap is looking elsewhere, and I don't think that symbol next to his head is a halo. It kind of looks like numbers or a symbol of some other sort. And the lamb looks sneaky...


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I think I see a squiggle on the left side also. Sometimes the halos were done like rays coming out of the head rather than discs. I wish I could find you a really good example - here is a version of what I'm talking about -- see the three "rays" surrounding the Christ Child's head (though the example has a line connecting the rays)?

Leonardo had students and it is very possible that this is a "School of Leonardo" or "Follower of Leonardo" work. If you google Da Vinci Madonna and Child I think you will see how different the figures look from those in other paintings attributed to Leonardo. The background though does bear a similarity.

As far as the piece of paper that says Magdalene, I really don't know. Since it was a piece of paper attached to the painting and not an actual part of the painting, it could have been attached at any time so I really don't think there's enough to go by at this time. The papal bull was from much later since Leonardo died in 1519. I just don't know what that paper means.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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My bet would be the flower is a carnation - which is often used as a symbol of the passion.

A painting, Madonna with the Carnation was originally attributed to Andrea del Verrocchio, but now revised in favor of Da Vinci.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 23:57

Well unless I am mis-reading the article, the name Magdalene appears on the papal bull.

Such a rare find in a farmhouse in Scotland :)

Yes the flower could definitely be a carnation.


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I think the squiggle is supposed to be a fleur-de-lys according to an article in the Daily Mail. (Interestingly - or not - I couldn't find any mention of this in the Italian press.)

Indications of a da Vinci: 1. A similarity between the boy and child in his famous piece Madonna of the Rocks, 2. A distinctive 'v' shape in the middle of the woman's hairline reminiscent of that shown in the last supper, 3. The fleur-de-lys is often said to be a hidden emblem of the secretive Priory of Sion, 4. The area by the woman's shoulder is unfinished, common in da Vinci works, 5. A tracing of the figure in the Last Supper matches exactly the outline of the woman in this painting, 6. The baby's second toe is longer than the big toe - another classic da Vinci feature.


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I love this painting. The biggest mystery is how it ended up where it did. How did her father come to have it? Was it passed down in the family?. It's been many years since my art classes in college but it looks like a daVinci to me. Some museum will be lucky to get it.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 6:27

Nancy ... now that adds to the mystery, including the silence of the church.

Lily ... it was brought by the Knights Templar who are rumored to have fled to Scotland when they left France, which also adds another layer to the story.

:)


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From the link that Nancy posted: "She thinks the true meaning of the artwork may have been disguised for centuries because such a work would have been considered heretic by the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope decreed the Virgin Mary should be illustrated in blue whereas Mary Magdalene had to be shown in red attire, as depicted in this painting."

This statement can be disproved by the many pictures of the Madonna wearing a red dress and blue cloak. Here are some:

Here are two Raphaels - http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/raphael/madonna-and-child
http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/raphael/madonna-and-child

Here's a Leonardo: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_3_1b.html

I can find many other examples from Medieval through Renaissance of Mary in a red dress and blue cloak.

Also the fleur de lys (sword lily) is another symbol of Mary.


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I love this Magdalene from the Met. Shes Pregnant also which was not uncommon in some paintings of her. She is unreal her hand like a mannequins her vanity mirror reflects only the candle the the light.

Mary Mother of Jesus is not uncommon in red in Annunciation scene of the Merode Altar Piece from The NY Cloisters shes in Red.

Ultramarine Mary's were about wealth & about showmanship as the intense colors which were supposed to magnify the glory of God's creation Red & blue were EXPENSIVE.
The bright blue Mary's of the middle ages were signs of having. The pigment was mined in Afghanistan as lapis then ground & converted to pigment shipped through Venice.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 9:25

Labrea is that a skull in her lap?


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I can answer that - if labrea doesn't mind...

Skulls are symbolic of penitent saints; the skull would represent the rejecting of vain, sinful living and the contemplating of one's mortality. Scourges are often depicted, too, which seems to be what the items are scattered at Magdalene's feet. Sometimes a cross, symbolizing redemption, is part of the iconography - but missing here.


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I think I can clarify the mystery of the children. If you check Raphael's famous Madonna and 2 children, it it clear that mother and OLDER CHILD both have halos and the youngest child (baby) does not. Raphael's painting is of Mary, Jesus (older child), and baby brother James, Mary's second child. (I think baby brother was named James, was he not?)

Notice also in both those paintings it is the older Jesus child who is holding the cross--foreshadowing his future and the idea of salvation.

I too like that picture of Mary Magdalene posted by labrea, but I never noticed she was pregnant nor that she had a skull on her lap. Since there is the tradition (not accepted by the Catholic Church) of Mary being the wife/lover of Jesus, does her pregnancy maybe refer to their child? (Again, symbolizing the future) Not exactly sure about the skull, but Magdalene in some traditions is also linked with the great pagan goddess who would have the powers of life and death. Certainly pregnancy (life) and skull (death) could represent those powers. Looking in the mirror (like looking into a pool or crystal ball and seeing the future--mirror symbol of prophetic powers?) and seeing not herself but the candles--her baby's future, kind of like "I am the way, the truth, and the LIGHT" idea associated with Jesus. The child carrying on that tradition? The light prevailing in the long run over the skull of death? There is a whole gnostic tradition celebrating Magdalene as a goddess-type figure with her own symbols and stories (which included her relationship with Jesus as his lover and as his favorite disciple).

Just speculating. Nothing like a good religious art mystery!

Kate


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 10:06

I have really missed out on "art education", glad I posted this as I am learning so much which makes me curious to do further research.

That is what I loved about this forum from the beginning ... y'all make me think.

A pregnant Magdalene, a papal bull, a second child and the possibility of a Rabbi with a family.


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The standing baby is definitely John the Baptist. You can tell by his attributes - he is shown with his hermit clothes (the brown tunic that he wore in the desert), the staff in the shape of the cross, the lamb and the pointing finger. He is often shown pointing - he came before Jesus and pointed the way to Him and salvation.

The skull by the way is called a "Memento Mori" (reminder of death). It is meant to remind the viewer of the painting of his or her mortality.

Would someone please let me know how to embed a photo in the text? Thanks!


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 10:16

JZ you have to upload the pic to something like photobucket and then copy the HTML code provided.


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What a knowledgeable bunch. Thanks for the art history lessons. Such fun to read.


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Thanks, OM. I was hoping there was an easier way. I can recommend a really good book that you might like. It's called:
Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary. It discusses the rise of the cult of Mary and how that relates to women from a feminist perspective. I dragged it out this morning to see if I could find anything of interest on the Magdalene and now I am inspired to re-read the book because of your thread!


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I second what Jerzee says @ 10:11.

The following may be why there's still no reference to this 'discovery' in the Italian press: Art History News

This mad story has made The Scotsman and The People, as well as The Daily Mail. A book will also be published, by a reputable publisher, Mainstream, which is part of the Random House group. The book will be available in hardback, paperback and e-book, suggesting the publisher thinks big things of their potential blockbuster. On their website, they describe the book thus:

Da Vinci's Last Commission by Fiona McLaren is one of the most astonishing detective stories in the history of art. It is also a tale of the courage and tenacity of a woman who challenged the international art establishment, orthodox history and the Church in her quest for the truth.

There's even talk of a newspaper serialisation. How [expletive deleted] did a respectable publisher fall for this barrel of palpable nonsense? And why are they publishing the book before the Hamilton Kerr have even begun their tests?

Now you might say, 'calm down Bendor -- isn't this all harmless fun?' But actually, it isn't. The occassional fantasies are I suppose inevitable. But as readers, you and I deserve better of our newspapers and publishing houses than to read utter nonsense presented as 'news' or 'the most astonishing art detective story in the history of art', by clueless journalists and publishers who can't be bothered to pick up the phone and ask a real expert about the painting in question. (And even when they do ask an expert, then not understand what the expert is saying, as in this case with Carlo Pedretti, who said 'it's by a 16th C follower' -- which means it isn't by Leonardo.)

We're now getting to the point where anyone can cobble together a few nutty facts, leap to conclusions, and make an outlandish claim that garners the world's media attention.


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Thanks - now I see the halo on the Baptist and the fleur de lis at three points on the Christ child's head. Wonder if the fleur (instead of the more easily recognized halo) was meant to symbolize the Trinity.

I'm thinking, too, the juniper might represent the perpetual chastity of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus.


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Thanks nancy for your expert sleuthing! I have been searching for a half hour to find any connection between the auctioneer named in the article and the place the article says he works and am drawing a big blank.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 11:28

So no mystery at all ... but still a wonderful piece of art and a chance to learn more art history.

Thanks to all of you.


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It's all interesting, debunked or not.

Here's another one... "Say the magic word" which in this case happens to be Leonardo.

Here is a link that might be useful: Art


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Pam if your reading remember me going on about this DeLatour at the Met. The met has such a great collection but this Penitent has always been one of my favorites it never draws a Crowd.
It's amazing how many artists depicted Mary Mother of Jesus with Mary Magdalen & how many artists have painted an Assumption of Mary Magdalen.
In The Magdalene in Paris the High altar looks to have The Assumption of Mary above the High altar but the common assumption about this assumption is that it's Mary mother of Jesus being assumed body and soul into heaven. The feast of which is August 15th.
That would be wrong the statues is Mary Magdalen being assumed.

It's quite a sight.


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Joe: I love that De La Tour painting at the Met too. There are other versions of it too - one at the National Gallery and the other at the Louvre. It's a beautiful painting - very moody.


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It's almost as if these de la Tour scenes take place "nowhere". A lack of scenery with masterful lighting of a subject with a candle, torch or other light source - which we can sometimes see or is hidden behind a hand or other object.

I've seen the The Repentant Magdalen in the National Gallery. In this version, the candle is hidden behind the skull which is sitting atop a dresser/jewelry box.

Here is a link that might be useful: Repentant Magdalen


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This may well be sacrilegious but is it possible that the child is actually the son of Jesus by Magdalene?


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Great thread!! thanks OM.


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 14:12

Ink that is very possibly what has been suggested in the rush to release the story before the painting has even been analyzed ... and then there are some, including the gnostic gospels among others, who believe that Jesus and Magdalene were more than just "friends".

So now you have introduced me to paintings of a pregnant Magdalene, even some portraying her standing/sitting at the base of the cross.

So who's the "baby's daddy"?

:)


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I love all the DeLatour Penitents!
Interesting Giovanni Lanfranco also has what appears to be a pregnant Magdalene being assumed into heaven.
There's a hybrid Mary a mixture of Martha's sister, The repentant sinner & St Mary of Egypt who may just be a myth but was another bad girl gone good!
After the Council of Trent Skulls were very hot every one was into penitence all the rage in Southern Europe the Counter reformation was in full swing!

The Marriage of the lamb to his bride the church (from revelations) the penitent often gets interwoven with Magdalene as the ultimate symbol of the true penitent.

The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine was a popular source for engraving painting during the Renaissance as it had been in circulation for some time. It was a collection of tails about the lives of some of the more popular Saints.

From the Golden legend

"Mary is as much to say as bitter, or a lighter, or lighted. By this be understood three things that be three, the best parts that she chose. That is to say, part of penance, part of contemplation within forth, and part of heavenly glory. And of this treble part is understood that is said by our Lord: Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken from her. The first part shall not be taken from her because of the end, which is the following of blessedness; the second because of continuance, for the continuance of her life is continued with the contemplation of her country. The third by reason of perdurableness; and forasmuch as she chose the best part of penance, she is said: a bitter sea, for therein she had much bitterness. And that appeared in that she wept so many tears that she washed therewith the feet of our Lord. And for so much as she chose the part of contemplation withinforth, she is a lighter, for there she took so largely that she spread it abundantly. She took the light there, with which after she enlumined other, and in that she chose the best part of the heavenly glory, she is called the light. For then she was enlumined of perfect knowledge in thought, and with the light in clearness of body. Magdalene is as much as to say as abiding culpable. Or Magdalene is interpreted as closed or shut, or not to be overcome. Or full of magnificence, by which is showed what she was tofore her conversion, and what in her conversion, and what after her conversion. For tofore her conversion she was abiding guilty by obligation to everlasting pain. In the conversion she was garnished by armour of penance. She was in the best wise garnished with penance. For as many delices as she had in her, so many sacrifices were found in her. And after her conversion she was praised by overabundance of grace. For whereas sin abounded, grace overabounded, and was more, etc. "


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Mary Magdalen, according to all the Evangelists, stood at the foot of the cross and assisted at the entombment and was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection.

I wouldn't consider much of any speculation as sacrilege. Here's a note of interest - the Greek Church has Magdalen accompanying her friend, the Virgin Mary to Ephesus, where she died. The remains were transferred to Constantinople and are/were preserved there.

But then there's the French version - Magdalen came to Marseilles and converted the whole of Provence. At her death, she was carried to Aix by angels.

And the rest, they say, is someone's history.


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I don't know about Mary Magdalene being pregnant in that De La Tour (or in the other paintings). She was portrayed as a pretty substantially-sized woman (often with blond hair) but it might refer more to her being a "woman of the flesh" possibly because of her profession before she met Jesus. A lot of the zoft also has to do with the fashions of the day. I also think that after the Council of Trent it would most likely have been sacrilege to portray her in that fashion.


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Hugo Vander Hoes has her rather distended there's also a case for the Caravaggio penitent cradling an unseen child other wise the pose comes of as rather silly.
Caravaggios other painting Mary & Martha finds her with the tiny flower in her hand and that full effect in the dress. These aren't Rubens lasses.
The little sweep of drapery and the shadow on the dress lend to the sense of a pregnancy. I think it's more metaphorical


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