Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

St Mary Magdalene

Today is the feast of St Mary Magdalene.

John Dillon posted these various medieval images of her on the Medieval religion discussion group site. They indicate the wide range of ways in which she has been depicted over the centuries, and the range of media in which she appears, as well as the differing skills and styles of individual artists and craftsmen. Devotion to her appears strong throughout the period, but it appears to have been very strong in the twelfth century, when her shrine at Vézelay was being built and attracting pilgrims; for that seethe online article Vézelay Abbey. By the later middle ages she appears often as a penitent clad in camel hair and with her hair flowing.

I have opened up for this post some of the links, but all are worth looking at - the size of some inhibits opening them all up, and the computer I am using is not very cooperative... :

a) as depicted (Noli me tangere; with another Mary) as depicted in a seventh-century icon in St. Catherine's monastery, St. Catherine (South Sinai governorate), Egypt:

b) as depicted (announcing the Resurrection) in a full-page illumination in the earlier twelfth-century St Albans Psalter (betw. 1120 and 1145; Hildesheim, Dombibliothek, MS St. Godehard 1, p. 51):


c) as depicted (addressing the angels before the empty tomb) in the eleventh-century Dionysiou Lectionary (Dionysiou monastery, Mt. Athos, cod. 587, fol. 171v):

d) as depicted in the earlier twelfth-century Melisende Psalter made at the monastery of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (ca. 1131-1143; London, BL, Egerton MS 1139, fol. 210r):
Detail view:

e) as depicted (announcing the Resurrection) in a panel of the mid-twelfth-century Passion of Christ window (ca. 1145-1155) in the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres:

f) as depicted in the later twelfth-century mosaics (ca. 1182) of the basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Nuova in Monreale:

g) as depicted in panels of the early thirteenth-century Mary Magdalen window (ca. 1205-1215) in the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres:
1) Washing Jesus' feet:
2) Noli me tangere:
3) The window as a whole:

h) as depicted (upper register; below, Doubting Thomas) in the earlier thirteenth-century so-called Latin Psalter of St. Louis and Blanche of Castile (ca. 1225?; Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 1186, fol. 26r):

i) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Sebastian) in a mid-thirteenth-century (ca. 1250-1260) window of the west choir in the Dom St. Peter und St. Paul in Naumburg:

j) as depicted (with eight scenes from her legend) in a late thirteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1280-1285) in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence:

k) as depicted (Noli me tangere; image greatly expandable) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of Jacopo da Varazze's _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino [CA], Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 78v):

l) as depicted (Noli me tangere) in a fourteenth-century copy of Guiard des Moulins' Bible historiale (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 152, fol. 446r):

m) as depicted by Giotto and assistants in the earlier fourteenth-century Mary Magdalen cycle (betw. 1300 and 1325) in the cappella della Maddalena of the Basilica Inferiore at Assisi (images expandable):

n) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Dorothy) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti on a wing of an earlier fourteenth-century triptych (ca. 1325) in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena:


o) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1326 and 1350) in the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Kanfanar, a locality of Šorići (Istarska županija) in Croatia:

p) as depicted (with another Mary, observing Jesus' burial) in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the sanctuary of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:

q) as depicted (seeing Jesus before the angel-guarded tomb; Noli me tangere) in an earlier fourteenth-century vault fresco (betw. 1335 and 1350) over the altar of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
Detail views:

r) as depicted (washing Jesus' feet; scenes from her legend) on Lukas Moser's Magdalenenaltar (1432) in the St. Maria Magdalena Kirche at Tiefenbronn (Lkr. Enzkreis) in Baden-Württemberg:


There isa description of the painting at  http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/m/moser/magdalen.html

s) as depicted (scenes from her legend) in the mid-fifteenth-century frescoes of the chapelle Saint-Érige at Auron, Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée (Alpes-Maritimes):

t) as portrayed by Donatello in a mid-fifteenth-century statue (ca. 1457) in the Museo dell'Opera del duomo, Florence:

Detail view:
For this famous statue, and teh evolution of the image of Mary Magdalen as a penitent see Penitent Magdalene (Donatello)
u) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Godehard) by Giovanni and Luca de Campo in the later fifteenth-century frescoes (1463) of the oratorio di San Bernardo at Briona (NO) in Piedmont:

v) as portrayed (her ascension into Heaven) by Tilman Riemenschneider in a late fifteenth-century sculptural group (ca. 1490-1492) from his dismantled altarpiece for the high altar of the Pfarrkirche St. Maria Magdalena in Münnerstadt (Lkr. Bad Kissingen) in Bayern, now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich:

File:Tilman Riemenschneider Magdalena-3.jpg

w) A nice, small selection of other late medieval images, in various media, of her ascension (click on the images to enlarge):

x) as depicted (Noli me tangere) by George / Tzortzis the Cretan in the mid-sixteenth-century frescoes (1546/47) in the katholikon of the Dionysiou monastery on Mt. Athos:
Detail view:

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