This remarkable figure of Mary Magdalene shows clearly the influence of Hans Multscher, 'the first artist in Southern Germany whose name can be associated with a relatively large number of surviving works' (op. cit. 1997, p. 11). Multscher is arguably the most prominent sculptor to have worked in the Swabian city of Ulm, where he established a significant career beginning in 1427, and ending with his death in 1467. Multscher and his workshop produced works not only for the city, among them the 'Karg-Nische' at Ulm Minster, but for wealthy and aristocratic private patrons. His style proved hugely influential throughout Upper Swabia in the mid-15th century, introducing 'modern' modes of representation in the region's religious sculpture.
Many of the present figure's characteristic features seem to have their origin in secured works by Multscher. The drapery style, with generous, gently cascading folds, is consistent with the sculptor's later works, notably the Virgin from Bihlafingen (op. cit. 1997, no. 54). Similar drapery schemes appear in works by Multscher's followers; compare, in particular, a Virgin and Child and a Mary Magdalene in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (inv. nos. MA 1367 and MA 1669). The broad face, with a slightly retroussé nose, almond shaped eyes and pointed lips, is seen in Multscher's Angels from the Sterzinger Altar (now Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, inv. no. MA 1250), though to a lesser extent in the sculptor's female figures. An analogous facial type, however, is exhibited by a Virgin and Child from the Wolter Collection that was associated with Multscher, illustrated in Gröber, op. cit., fig. 48.
K. Gröber, 'Das plastische Werk Hans Multschers' in E. Buchner and K. Feuchtmayr,
Oberdeutsche Kunst der Spätgotik und der Reformationszeit, Augsburg, 1924, pp. 68-87; T. Müller, Die Bildwerke in Holz, Ton und Stein von der Mitte des XV. bis gegen Mitte des XVI. Jahrhunderts, cat. Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, 1959, nos. 81 and 82; Hans Multscher: Bildhauer der Spätgotik in Ulm, exh. cat. Ulmer Museum, Ulm, 1997, pp. 378-379, 404-405