Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 169. The Penitent Magdalene.

Property from a Private Collection

Andrea Vaccaro

The Penitent Magdalene

Lot Closed

July 4, 10:09 AM GMT


30,000 - 40,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection

Andrea Vaccaro

Naples 1607–1670

The Penitent Magdalene

signed in monogram lower centre: AV

oil on canvas

unframed: 101.1 x 77 cm.; 39¾ x 30⅜ in.

framed: 120.2 x 95.1 cm.; 47⅜ x 37⅜ in.

Private collection, Spain;

With Jean-Luc Baroni, London, by 2011,

From whom acquired by a private collector;

By whom sold ('Property of a Private Collector'), New York, Christie's, 27 April 2017, lot 44, for $87,500.

This depiction of the Penitent Magdalene by the Neapolitan artist Andrea Vaccaro, is one of the finest extant examples of this composition by the artist and one of only two versions bearing his elegant monogram. When offered for sale in 2017, its attribution was endorsed by Riccardo Lattuada, who dated the picture to the 1640s, when Vaccaro was at the height of his powers having established himself as one of the leading Neapolitan artists of his generation.

Following the defeat of French forces at the Battle of Garigliano in 1503, the city of Naples came under the rule of the Spanish empire. This created opportunities for painters living and working in the city to expand their markets and facilitated increased artistic exchange between Italy and Spain. Andrea Vaccaro, a native of Naples, became one of the city's leading artists and by 1635 he was exporting numerous pictures to Spain under the guidance of the Neapolitan Viceroy, the Duque de Medina da las Torres.

Vaccaro's painterly style was clearly indebted to the works of Caravaggio whose Flagellation of Christ (Museo di Capodimonte, Naples) he replicated (Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore, Naples). The present work exemplifies the naturalistic caravaggesque style that dominated the artistic scenes in Naples and Rome, along with the stark tenebrism of the Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera, who had settled in Naples in1616 and whose influence is particularly evident in the rendering of the still-life elements at the lower left of the composition. Vaccaro's dramatic flair was tempered by the elegance and refinement of Bernardo Cavallino, with whom Vaccaro came into contact in the second half of the 1630s, displayed here in the Magdalene's delicate, porcelain-like features and lyrical expression.

The Magdalene was a highly popular subject during the mid-17 century, a period marked by intense religious fervor and artistic innovation. Vaccaro created numerous renditions of the Penitent Magdalene, reflecting the saint's status as a symbol of repentance and reform during the Counter Reformation. This particular composition appears in several paintings of varying quality, including those in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples;1 the Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo;2 the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg;3 the Palacio de Liria, Madrid; the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro;4 and the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.5

1 https://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/entry/work/52801/Vaccaro%20Andrea%2C%20Santa%20Maria%20Maddalena%20penitente

2 https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maddalena_penitente_(Andrea_Vaccaro)#/media/File:La_Maddalena_-_Andrea_Vaccaro_-_Palazzo_Abatellis_-_Palermo_-_Italy_2015.JPG

3 https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+paintings/31782

4 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Vaccaro_-_Madalena.jpg

5 https://www.sammlung.pinakothek.de/de/artwork/Qm4552g4No/andrea-vaccaro/die-hl-magdalena