Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weyden, Rogier van der

Magdalen (right wing of the Braque family triptych)
oil on panel
41 x 34 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Rogier van der Weyden  (1399 or 1400 – 1464) was an Early Flemish painter. He was highly successful and famous in his lifetime. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and was almost totally forgotten by the mid 18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 2 centuries and today he is known as one of the three great Early Flemish artists. His vigorous, subtle, expressive painting and popular religious conceptions had considerable influence on European painting.

This may be the finest Flemish 15th century portrait existing. View Mary's elegant posture, splendid clothes and delicate face. In her hand is her usual attribute; the jar with ointment with which she has anointed Jesus' feet. The text in the top refers to that act. It reads "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus".
Mary Magdalene, from an Christian tradition, is three different women combined: the unnamed sinner who smears the Lord’s feet with perfume and dries them with her hair; Mary of Bethany, who joined Jesus’ followers, received him in her house and persuaded him to raise her brother from the dead; and finally Mary of the town of Mandela, who is present both at the Crucifixion and at the Entombment, and whom Christ graces with his first appearance as a Redeemer in the episode known as the Noli me tangere. Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of prostitutes, hairdressers, perfumers, and of gardeners. In fine art she is presented with long loose hair; perfume or ointment pot, crown of thorns, mirror are sometimes also present.