Lot 8
  • 8

Attributed to Jorge Manuel Theotokópoulos

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  • Jorge Manuel Theotokópoulos
  • The Penitent Magdalene
  • Indistinctly inscribed on a cartellino lower left: **** theotokópoulos/e’poíei
  • Oil on canvas 


Possibly listed in the inventory of goods belonging to Jorge Manuel Theotokópoulos, either no. 102 or 163;

Don López Cepero y Cañaveral, Seville;

Julio Schmidt, Seville;

Don Ignacio Zuloaga, Zumaya, by whom acquired during the early part of the 20th Century;

Thence by descent until recently.


M. B. Cossío, El Greco, Madrid 1908, no. 332, as El Greco;

A. L. Mayer, Dominico Theotocopuli, El Greco, Munich 1928, no. 295a, as workshop;

Legendre and Hartmann, El Greco, Paris 1937, no. 451, as El Greco;

José Gallart y Folch, El Espíritu y la técnica del Greco, Barcelona 1946, p. 48, as El Greco;

J. Camón Aznar, Dominico Greco, Madrid 1950, no. 459, reproduced fig. 294, as El Greco;

H. Soehner, Zeitschrift, 1956, p. 54; III, no. 189, as workshop;

T. Frati, L’opera completa del Greco, Milan 1969, p. 120, no. 151b.

H.E. Wethey, El Greco and His School, Princeton 1962, vol. II, p. 250, no. X-416, as workshop replica (Jorge Manuel?), circa 1610-20;

Exhibition catalogue, El Greco Identity and Transformation, Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza, 3 February – 16 May 1999, Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 2 June - 19 September 1999, Athens, Alexandros Soutzos Museum, 18 October – 17 January 2000, p. 429, as workshop (entry by Professor José Alvarez Lopera).

Catalogue Note

As pointed out by the late Professor José Alvarez Lopera, this painting of The Penitent Magdalene  can probably be identified with one of two works listed in an inventory of the possessions of El Greco's son Jorge Manuel Theotokópoulos in 1621 as ‘a Magdalen crying’.1 The picture has had a mixed critical history over the years: it was considered to be by the hand of El Greco by Cossío, Legendre, Gallart y Folch and Camón Aznar, whilst Mayer ascribed it to the artist’s workshop and proposed a dating of circa 1607-09, a notion supported by Soehner, who suggested the signature lower left to be by the hand of Jorge Manuel. Wethey also considered the painting a studio production, possibly by Jorge Manuel and dateable circa 1610-20, whilst in the catalogue to the exhibition El Greco Identity and Transformation, held in Madrid, Athens and Rome in 1999/2000 Alvarez Lopera also describes the picture as from the Greco workshop. Leading scholars today however are inclined to consider the picture to be by the hand of Jorge Manuel, the most talented artist working in El Greco's studio.

The painting is a high quality reduced version of El Greco’s late treatment of the subject of The Penitent Magdalene, generally dated by scholars circa 1607 and today in the collection of Don Plácido Arango, Madrid (oil on canvas, 118 by 105 cm.).1 Although El Greco was a version painter, the Arango picture is the only known autograph version of the present composition, and furthermore only two other replicas are known: the present version and a picture that was in the collection of Ivan Schutkin at the beginning of the 20thcentury, which appears to be a copy after the present work.

El Greco treated the subject of The Penitent Magdalene on two earlier occasions, the best known versions of which are a painting from the early 1580s today in the Worcester Art Museum, Massachussetts and a picture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, datable to around 1578-80.2 Whilst in the present work the Magdalene is shown in a frontal pose, in both of the aforementioned designs she is placed at an angle to the picture plane and looks to the upper left corner with an outcrop of rock dominating one side of the background and a distant view of a landscape on the other, as also in the present work. Although each of El Greco’s three treatments are clearly inspired by Titian’s great paintings of the subject, examples of which are in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples and in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, the present version comes closest to the great Venetian master’s design, in particular with the pose of the Magdalene with her arm across her chest, in clear reference to her penitence.

This painting will be included in the forthcoming exhibition El Greco: Arte y Oficio, to be held in the Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, on 8 September - 9 December 2014, as part of the cultural programme to mark the fourth centenary of El Greco's death.

1. See exhibition catalogue, El Greco Identity and Transformation, op. cit., reproduced p. 320.

2. See H.E. Wethey, op. cit., vol, II, cat. nos. 259 and 261, reproduced vol. I, figures 304 and 306 respectively.