WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)

St Mary Magdalene

1450s
Silverpoint on prepared paper, 176 x 130 mm
British Museum, London

The St. Mary Magdalene, drawn from the right wing of the Braque Triptych (Musée du Louvre, Paris), is a version of an entire painting. This is undoubtedly a copy from the finished picture, for the saint's veil, fluttering around her turban head-dress in the underdrawing of the panel, is pinned up in the drawing in exactly the same way as it appears in the final version of the painting. Although it is therefore a copy, the drawing, sometimes ascribed to Rogier himself, is notable for its confidence and expressive power. Striking features are its varied line and the differing amount of attention paid to detail: the face and head-dress are very finely drawn, in the manner of the drawings discussed above, while the clothing and body are depicted only by rapid lines, though those lines are sufficient to convey ideas of shape. The landscape, on the other hand, is indicated only in rough compositional outline, with a swift stroke symbolizing a row of trees. Nor was the artist interested in the ornate brocade pattern of the sleeve; for that detail, he could use a pattern already present in the workshop's stocks if necessary. The drawing may have been done to provide a workshop record of the final version of the Magdalene in the Bracque Triptych.