Mary Magdalen (Donatello)
Date ca. 1430-50
Movement Italian Renaissance
Medium Polychrome and gold on wood
Dimensions height. 6’1″
Housed at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence
It was believed in later medieval times that Mary Magdalen spent the last part of her life in the desert, in penitence. After carving this piece from poplar wood, Donatello then painted and gilded it, creating an intensely texturized surface that highlights Magdalen’s gaunt and matted features. Clearly, Donatello veered from his Classical tendencies and was more concerned about the spiritual implications of this work than its natural beauty.