Lot 113
  • 113


60,000 - 80,000 GBP
187,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • The Penitent Magdalen
  • oil on canvas
  • 104 x 84.1 cm.; 41 x 33 1/8  in.


Private collection, France, since the 19th century;
Anonymous sale, Mayenne, Pascal Blouet, 28 March 2005, lot 90 (as Attributed to Titian).

Catalogue Note

One of Titian’s most successful and popular compositions, the artist and his studio produced a number of versions of The Penitent Magdalen from the 1530s onwards, with variations in the landscape, drapery and, to some extent, expression. In the way that the Magdalen is covered by her white drapery and framed entirely by the rocky cliff behind her, which extends to the top of the composition, the present work is closest in conception to Titian’s autograph painting produced in circa 1566–67 for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.1 The landscape to the right bears most resemblance to Cornelis Cort’s engraving in reverse, dated 1566,2 which includes the house and trees on the banks of a river, but omits the tall tree found in many other versions, including the Farnese painting and that in the Hermitage, datable to around the mid-1560s.3

X-ray images of the present work reveal that several adjustments were made to the composition: the position of the Magdalen's head has been altered, and so have her eyes; her mouth appears originally to have been closed; the little finger on her left hand has moved slightly; and the formation of the cliff and the clouds is also slightly different.

1 Today in Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte; see P. Joannides, 'An attempt to situate Titian’s paintings of the Penitent Magdalen in some kind of order', in artibus et historiae, no. 73, 2016, p. 185, reproduced in colour p. 184, fig. 28.
2 For example, San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums, inv. no. 1963.30.36754; see Joannides 2016, p. 185, reproduced fig. 29.
3 St. Petersburg, State Hermitage; see Joannides 2016, p. 177, reproduced in colour p. 181, fig. 24.