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Title The Magdalen
Collection Fairfax House, York
Artist Attributed to school of Massys, Jan (South Netherlandish painter, ca. 1509-1575)
Date Earliest about 1530
Date Latest about 1590
Description This painting has been given the title ‘The Magdalen', but elements of the painting are more in keeping with an idealised portrait rather than a devotional painting. The female saint or sitter, dressed richly in gold brocade and red velvet, sits with her hair tucked up within a gold-trimmed hat. She uses a little carved inkwell and nib pen to write a letter. She sits at a green-draped table on a balcony, the roof of which is held up by red jasper (or similar). In the background are the gentle hills and roofs of a landscape. The picture is known as ‘The Magdalen' because of the vase which stands in a prominent position by her letter. In scripture, Mary Magdalene is recorded breaking a ‘costly' alabaster perfume bottle in order to anoint Christ with the scented oil it contained. Rather than alabaster, the artist has painted a blue and white ceramic object, reminiscent of Chinese ware.
Current Accession Number NT1984/032
Former Accession Number P19
Subject religion
Measurements 56.0 x 43 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Noel Terry 1984.
Provenance Purchased from the art dealer Sheridan by Noel Terry in 1934.
Publications Brown, Peter, The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks, York, 1987, p. 135, fig. 141.
Rights Owner Fairfax House, York
Author Dr Ruth Stewart




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