This painting on copper is a relatively late work by the artist and one which beautifully expresses her piety and the deep sense of mysticism that pervades much of her oeuvre. The Magdalene is depicted at the very moment of her conversion. Still attired in rich satin robes, she has swooned in ecstasy before a vision of heaven in the form of musical angels set against swirling clouds, while two kneeling angels tenderly support her. In the foreground can be seen her usual attributes: the ointment jar, a skull and a scourge, to which the artist has carefully added the detail of dried blood. It seems certain that Josefa knew works by Francisco de Zurbarán (indeed several of his panel paintings were included in inventories of her father’s, uncle’s and sister’s properties) and his influence can be seen here in the luminous touches of white and cream, and in the facial types and textiles.2
1. See A. Hatherly, in The Sacred and Profane, Josefa de Obidos of Portrugal, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C. 1997, p. 34
2. See V. Serrão, in The Dictionary of Art, London, 1996, Vol. 2, p. 878.
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