The Penitent Magdalene (Magdalena Poenitens) from the series The Large Landscapes

Johannes van Doetecum the elder (Netherlandish, active 1554–ca. 1600, died 1605)
Lucas van Doetecum (Netherlandish, active 1554–72, died before 1589)
After Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, Breda (?) ca. 1525–1569 Brussels)
Hieronymus Cock (Netherlandish, Antwerp ca. 1510–1570 Antwerp)
ca. 1555–56
Etching with engraving; first state of two
sheet: 12 11/16 x 16 7/8 in. (32.3 x 42.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
Not on view
The figure of Mary Magdalene, the reformed and repentant prostitute, occupies but a small portion of the composition in this image, which was printed after a design by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Reclining under a lean-to of logs in the right foreground, the repentant saint is shielded from the grand alpine valley and mountainscape behind her. An aureole of light surrounds Mary in the sky above as she is taken to heaven by angels, as happened seven times a day during her thirty years of penance. This is one of a series of twelve prints known as the Large Landscapes, all of which reflect the deep impression the dramatic mountain vistas made on Bruegel as he traveled through the Alps on his return from Italy around 1554. Carried out primarily in etched lines that have the appearance of engraved ones, the unsigned Large Landscapes were executed by the brothers Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum and published by Hieronymus Cock through his Antwerp shop, At the Four Winds. The prints, which were among the most widely circulated and celebrated of Bruegel's images, allowed a large audience to become acquainted with his strikingly naturalistic and broad-eyed conception of landscape.
Van Bastelaer 1908, 8; NH (Bruegel) 120.51.i; Brussels 1969, no.3; Tokyo 1989 no. 3; Nalis 1998, no. 12; Rotterdam/MMA 2001, no. 26