St. Mary Magdalen between St. Peter Martyr and St. Catharine of Siena
16 3/4 in. x 11 1/4 in. (42.5 cm. x 28.5 cm.)
Medium and Support
tempera on panel
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
This devotional picture by Gherardo del Fora illustrates the cultural transformations that began in Renaissance Italy, from the rise of humanism and an interest in classical antiquity to the increasing influence of the Catholic Church. A talented painter and book illustrator in Florence, Gherardo expresses his understanding of the natural world with realistic perspectives of Mary Magdalene, covered in calf-length hair and flanked by Saints Peter Martyr and Catherine of Siena. In the distant scene visible through a window, an earlier event in Mary’s life unfolds; she is the first to recognize Christ, newly risen following his crucifixion. During the late fifteenth century during Gherardo’s lifetime, new ways of seeing, both literally and figuratively, validated Western Europeans’ global explorations and exploitation of the New World that soon followed.
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