PIERO DI COSIMO
(b. 1462, Firenze, d. 1521, Firenze)

St Mary Magdalene

1490s
Tempera on panel, 72,5 x 76 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The old attribution to Mantegna was corrected in 1874 when the painting was given to Piero di Cosimo. Most scholars have seen the piece as belonging to the first years of the sixteenth century, the last phase of the artist's production; when he was influenced by the Leonardesque movement. A more precise dating has placed this work to 1501, the time of Leonardo's return to Florence. Some scholars, on the other hand, placed the date at around 1490, setting the work among the earliest of a group carried out between 1485 and 1505. In the pictures of this group, the artist reveals a stylistic attachment to Filippino Lippi, toning down the colours for a "northern accent", in the manner of Hugo van der Goes.

The Magdalene's face has a portrait quality that is notable, especially as such treatment runs counter to the strict observance of the iconography of the saint.




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