St. Mary Magdalene
58 1/2 x 20 5/8 x 10 3/4 in. (148.6 x 52.4 x 27.3 cm)
French; made in Le Mans, Normandy
Medium and Support:
Gift of Mrs. Charles H. Babcock
Location: Currently on view
Mary Magdalen was one of the most popular saints in medieval Christianity. As one of Christ’s most devoted followers, she was present at his crucifixion, death, and burial. Known for her faith; she was one of the first to believe that Christ was truly resurrected. The covered box that she holds is a container for the spices or perfume used to anoint Christ’s body after his crucifixion.
Both wood and stone sculptures were customarily painted during the Middle Ages. Gilders and painters, in fact, were sometimes paid more than sculptors for their share of the work. This statue probably stood alone on an interior altar where it served as an object of devotion. Because the sculpture was protected from the elements, it retains enough polychromy to give an idea of the original appearance.
[Gallery label text, June 2013]