Picturing the Magdalene

How Artists Imagine the Apostle to the Apostles

No figure in the Christian pantheon except Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist has inspired, provoked, or confounded the imagination of painters more than the Magdalene.

The claims, speculations, and traditions that have been “hung” on Mary Magdalene often resemble in thickness and length the locks of hair that cover her body like a raccoon coat in certain medieval and early Renaissance representations. It has been said that she was once a rich woman. It has been said that...

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About the Author

Robert Kiely is professor emeritus of English at Harvard University. He is the author of Blessed & Beautiful: Picturing the Saints (Yale University Press).

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