The Magdalene | MSK Gent
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The Magdalene, 1887

  • drypoint, etching, heightened, paper
  • 268 x 180 mm
  • Inv. 1998-B-9

Public Domain

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The theme of Mary Magdalene appeared in the visual arts as early as the 11th century. Ensor incorporated this long visual tradition into his own typology. As was often the case, he reworked a female figure that had (probably) originally been drawn from a model. Some attributes refer to Mary Magdalene: the skull at the bottom left and the cross in her hands. The death symbolism fits in with the traditional iconographic interpretations of the penitent Magdalene figure. In Ensor's work the skull had a pronounced morbid, ironic or fantastic connotation.


James Ensor RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ostend 1860 - Ostend 1949

Title The Magdalene
Date 1887
Period 19th century
Medium and support drypoint AAT
etching AAT
Signatures, inscriptions, and markings inscription on the reverse: AT
inscription on the reverse: D.9
Collection print room
Object type drypoint AAT
etching AAT
Inventory number 1998-B-9
Acquisition credit purchase
Taevernier, Auguste (coll.)
Current whereabouts Work currently not on display
IIIF Manifest
Art & Architecture Thesaurus 300055874 religious symbolism AAT
Keywords Iconclass 11HH(MARY MAGDALENE) the penitent harlot Mary Magdalene; possible attributes: book (or scroll), crown, crown of thorns, crucifix, jar of ointment, mirror, musical instrument, palm-branch, rosary, scourge Iconclass
31AA the (nude) human figure; 'Corpo humano' (Ripa) - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA235 sitting figure - AA - female human figure Iconclass
School / Style phantasy
satire (artistic device) AAT
historicism (theory) AAT
James Ensor : Catalogue illustré de ses gravures ; Leur description critique et l'inventaire des plaques = Geïllustreerde catalogus van zijn gravures ; Hun kritische beschrijving en inventaris van de platen = Illustrated catalogue of his engravings ; Their critical description and inventary of the plates / Auguste Taevernier. - Ledeberg (Gent) : Erasmus Boekhandel bv Amsterdam, 1973 (nr. 9)
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