Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 45020

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2018

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GLAHM 45020: 'The Conversion of the Magdalen' or 'Martha Reproving Mary' - click to view larger image

"The Conversion of the Magdalen" or "Martha Reproving Mary"

oil painting

AFTER VOUET, Simon; (French; 1590-1649) ATTR RENI, Guido; (Italian; 1575-1642) AFTER CARAVAGGIO, (Michelangelo Merisi); (Italian; 1573-1610) ATTR GENTILESCHI, Artemisia; (Italian; 1597-c.1651) CRE FRENCH SCHOOL; 17th century

oil on copper
19.0 x 26.0
37.4 x 43.9
To eighteenth-century connoisseurs Guido Reni's small oils on copper were as precious as jewels. Such almost miniature cabinet-pictures, finely executed, were often made specifically for private collectors. In his catalogue entry Strange noted: 'This picture will abundantly speak for itself, both in the composition of the attitudes, the agreeableness of the characters, and the force with which the whole is painted: it is in the style of the St. Peter and St. Paul at Bologna.' This work, although religious in subject, has all the anecdotal charm of a genre scene, something which ought to have caused Strange and Hunter to question the attribution to Reni. Although not by Reni, the painting did come from Italy, and seems to be a work of the French painter Simon Vouet. Vouet's early career was spent in Rome (1614-27), where he was one of the most important painters of realist genre scenes inspired by Caravaggio. Having studied art at its fountainhead, Vouet - like Poussin and Stella - returned to France bringing 'le bon gout' with him. Hunter's painting must be a replica, possibly autograph, of the much larger Vouet canvas in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Inv. 255), but with a significantly different treatment of the Magdalen's rich clothing. The Vienna painting, also traditionally attributed to Guido Reni, is a Caravaggesque interpretation of a popular seventeenth-century theme, taken from an annonymous 14th-century 'Life of the Magdalen'. Mary, convinced by the arguments of her sister Martha that she should follow Christ, is on the point of abandoning the vanities of the world; hence the removal of jewellery from her hair. Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter, 1783

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