Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy

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Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy
Italian: Maddalena in estasi
Mary magdalene caravaggio.jpg
Artist Caravaggio
Year 1606 (1606)
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions 103.5 cm × 91.5 cm (40.75 in × 36 in)
Location Private Collection

Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy (1606) is a painting by the Italian baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). What is believed to be the authentic version of the painting was discovered in a private collection in 2014;[1] the painting was previously only known to art historians a number of copies made by followers of the artist.[2] Mina Gregori, an Italian art historian and Caravaggio specialist certified the painting's authenticity, stating "I know a Caravaggio when I see one."[3] If the painting is, in fact, authentic, it would be valued at over £20 million ($32.3 million).

It is widely accepted that Caravaggio painted the work in 1606 while in hiding at the estates of the Colonna family after fleeing Rome following the killing of Ranuccio Tommason,[4][5] however the narrative is disputed.[6]

According to a legend popular in Caravaggio's time, after Christ's death his faithful female disciple Mary of Magdala moved to southern France, where she lived as a hermit in a cave at Sainte-Baume near Aix-en-Provence. There she was transported seven times a day by angels into the presence of God, "where she heard, with her bodily ears, the delightful harmonies of the celestial choirs." Earlier artists had depicted Mary ascending into the divine presence through multicoloured clouds accompanied by angels; Caravaggio made the supernatural an entirely interior experience, with the Magdalen alone against a featureless dark background, caught in a ray of intense light, her head lolling back and eyes stained with tears.[7] This revolutionary naturalistic interpretation of the legend also allowed him to capture the ambiguous parallel between mystical and erotic love, in Mary's semi-reclining posture and bared shoulder. The painting was immensely influential for future treatment of the theme by artists such as Rubens and Simon Vouet (who adopted Carvaggio's earth-bound Magdalen but reintroduced the angels), and of course Bernini and his celebrated Ecstasy of St Theresa.


  1. ^ Press, Associated (2016-03-01). "Long-lost Caravaggio painting goes on show in Tokyo". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  2. ^ Vogt, Andrea (2014-10-24). "Caravaggio's original Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy 'discovered'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  3. ^ "Long-lost original of Caravaggio's iconic Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy 'found'". RT International. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  4. ^ "The magdalen in ecstacy- by Caravaggio". Caravaggion and his 100 famous paintings. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  5. ^ Nayeri, Farah (2018-10-08). "In Paris, a Celebration of Caravaggio's Roman Days". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  6. ^ Conversation, The. "Newly discovered painting could be $32.3 million Italian masterpiece". Mashable. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  7. ^ Vogt, Andrea (2014-10-24). "Caravaggio's original Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy 'discovered'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
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