Caravaggio's 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' is known through many copies. The canvas in a private collection in Rome is thought most likely to be the original by Caravaggio of 'circa' 1610.1 In his dramatic representation of the saint, Caravaggio has stripped away her traditional symbols such as the skull and the hourglass, and tells her story as a triad of intensely emotive contrasts: red, white and black. Mary Magdalen was the woman taken in adultery and who then grievously repented her sins of the flesh. To be saved, as Saint Paul wrote, she had first to die an agonising death to sin.
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