La Magdalena next to the tomb of Savoldo

La Magdalena next to the tomb of Savoldo
La Magdalena next to the tomb of Savoldo

Not much is known about the Renaissance painter Gian Girolamo Savoldo. Not even the year of his birth. Instead it is known that he was originally fromBresciaand some of his wanderings through various cities in Italy. First by Parma and Florence, and then by Venice and Milan, being confirmed that he was active between 1506 and 1548. A few decades in which he traveled to numerous places in Italy getting to know the work of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci or Giorgione, two of his biggest influences. While he did not lack commissions to carry out, almost always of a religious theme.


Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Savoldo

However, the reality is that not many of his works have survived to this day. However, among all this select bouquet of works distributed by various museums in Europe and North America, the oil on canvas stands out, which is kept in the National Gallery in London and which the painter would make around to the year 1530.

Here we see a woman who represents Maria Magdalena, with a large three-quarter figure located in the foreground and barely leaving a gap in the canvas to see a distant background. The truth is that she is a very powerful image. And not only because of its large size, occupying most of the canvas, but also because of its very marked contour drawing, the tone of the white garmentwhich irremediably reflects light, albeit in a very subtle way.

And although we hardly see the landscape behind, there are enough elements to identify it. Below left is a small jar of ointment, placed on the sill of Christ's tomb with which Magdalene had anointed Jesus' feet to cleanse her many sins. However, the painter has transferred that biblical scene to a Venetian setting, hence the intuited presence of a lagoon.

From all the silver satin cloak that covers the woman comes the beautiful face of the Magdalena who looks at us directly and mysteriously. It is as if she invited us to follow her in the penitent life that she was going to lead after the death of Jesus, who even miraculously appeared to her. And it is that the Magdalena is one of the most controversial characters of the Gospels, since the legend that was created about her tells that she was a prostitute, who ended her days living in the desert, wearing only her long hair and fasting, feeding herself of what the angels brought him.

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