This poignant figure of a wailing Mary Magdalene would have once formed part of a terracotta group lamenting the Dead Christ. Such groups, characterised by contorted poses and a high level of emotion, flourished in Emilia-Romagna in the second half of the 15th century, led by Niccolo dell'Arca's famous masterpiece in the church of S. Maria della vita in Bologna. The present figure can be associated with the work of Niccolo's contemporary, Guido Mazzoni. Her pose and expression is particularly close to his Mary Magdalene from the church of S. Anna dei Lombardi in Naples, and the same subject in the Chiesa del Gesu in Ferrara. Compare also the fragmentary bust of Mary Magdalene that survives in Padua.
T. Verdon, The Art of Guido Mazzoni, New York and London, 1978, figs. 23 and 67; G. Bonsanti and F. Piccinini (eds.), Emozioni in terracotta: Guido Mazzoni, Antonio Begarelli, Sculture del Rinascimento emiliano, exh. cat. Foro Boario, Modena, 2009, p. 136