TIZIANO Vecellio
(b. 1490, Pieve di Cadore, d. 1576, Venezia)

St Mary Magdalene

Oil on canvas, 128 x 103 cm
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples

Despite the religious subject matter, there is a strong erotic quality in this picture of Mary Magdalene, who has sunk down in a posture of pious penitence, tears in her eyes as she gazes up to heaven. In contrast to the version painted for Francesco Maria della Rovere (now in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence), in this version her breasts are covered, but the extremely skimpy covering is if anything more provocative. Most scholars assume that this painting is the picture that Titian gave to Alessandro Farnese in 1567.