Mary Magdalen

Master i.e. German

Not on view

Despite its apparent simplicity, Mary Magdalen, is one of Master i.e.'s most accomplished works. He depicted the patron saint of hairdressers and perfumers as a graceful, pensive figure clothed in an elegant robe, with her hair tied in large braids around her head. She delicately grasps her attribute, the jar containing the ointment with which she anointed Christ's feet. The depiction of the saint as a single figure, removed from any narrative and standing on a schematically indicated mound of earth, is related to prints by the great fifteenth-century northern European printmaker Martin Schongauer, but Master i.e. depicted his saint on a much larger scale and rendered the costume with an intricate brocade seldom seen in his teacher's work.
We know very little about the author of this beautiful engraving. He was most likely active in the shop of Martin Schongauer, to whom much of his work is stylistically indebted. Our name for this unknown artist derives from an interpretation of the Gothic initials that appear in reverse on an engraving of a peasant holding a sausage (unique impression in the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and that may or may not be his monogram; none of the other prints attributed to him is signed.

Mary Magdalen, Master i.e. (German, active 1480–1500), Engraving

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