(b. ca. 1472, Oostzan, d. 1533, Amsterdam)

Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen as a Gardener

Oil on oak, 55 x 39 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

In the foreground on this small wooden panel, one of the artist's earliest dated works, Jacob Cornelisz. van Oostsanen shows a scene from the story of the Resurrection as recounted in St John's Gospel. Mary Magdalene meets the risen Christ and mistakes him for a gardener. When she recognises him, she throws herself at his feet. Christ then speaks to her the words the artist has painted in artful Gothic lettering on the trim of his garment: 'Touch me not, Mary, for I am not yet ascended to my Father' (Maria noli me tangere - nondum enim ascendi ad patrem).

In the middle and far distance, integrated in a finely-detailed landscape, the painter shows four more episodes grouped around the central motif; the two Marys at the empty tomb, Jesus meeting the three Marys, his encounter with the pilgrims on the road to Emmaus, and the meal at Emmaus. In the artist's time and later, it was quite usual to group together a series of events on one single panel, as it was indeed to show Mary as an elegantly-dressed early-sixteenth-century lady.