When Raphael died in 1520, his workshop in Rome was jointly inherited by his two leading pupils, Giulio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni. Among the numerous projects they undertook before Giulio's departure from Rome for Mantua in 1524 was the decoration of a chapel dedicated to Mary MAGDALEN in the church of SS. Trinita dei Monti in Rome. (1) Giorgio Vasari refers to the project twice in the 1568 edition of the Vite. In his life of the painter Perino del Vaga he states that Giulio Romano and Penni painted "four scenes in fresco of St. Mary Magdalen in the lunettes and an altarpiece in oil of Christ appearing to Mary Magdalen in the guise of a gardener." (2) In his life of the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi, he notes that Marcantonio engraved prints of "the four scenes of the Magdalen and the four evangelists in the vault of the chapel in the Trinita." Of special interest, however, is Vasari's comment that these paintings were done for "a prostitute [una meretrice]. " (3) This information is repeated by Vasari i n his statement that the face of the dead woman carved on top of a marble sarcophagus set against one wall of the chapel was a portrait of "a very famous courtesan of Rome [una famosissima cortigiana di Roma]" (4)
Assuming Vasari is correct in stating that the chapel's decorations were commissioned by a courtesan (and there seems to be no good reason to doubt him), the project raises questions about the status and role of courtesans in early sixteenth-century Roman society. During this period, courtesans in Rome were tolerated and accepted at the highest levels of society. At the same time, the Church actively encouraged prostitutes and courtesans to follow the example of Mary Magdalen, who had become established as the paradigm of the penitent prostitute. The choice of scenes from the life and legend of Mary Magdalen therefore suited the decoration of a chapel for a presumably repentant courtesan. Moreover, it can be shown that the frescoes also served to reaffirm the Church's belief in Mary Magdalen's identification as a prostitute at a time when this long-held tradition was being challenged by the French humanist Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples. . . . .
Reconstructing the Chapel's Decorations
The chapel's altarpiece (8) has been identified as the Noli me tangere now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid (Fig. 1). (9) The painting shows the Magdalen on the right reaching toward Christ, who, with his left hand extended, appears to both warn her away and bless her at the same time. (10) A print engraved by Giovanni Battista Cavalieri in 1570 reproduces the altarpiece with a fair degree of accuracy (Fig. 2). (11)
Besides the altarpiece, one of the lunettes, depicting Mary Magdalen Borne Up by Angels, has also survived and is now in the National Gallery, London (Fig. 3). (12) It shows Mary Magdalen, nude but for her covering of hair, reclining amid clouds and sustained by six angels. The fresco is also known through an engraving attributed to Leon Davent in which the design has been adjusted to suit a circular format (Fig. 4) (13) Below the main figure group has been added a view of a mountain, presumably the massif near Marseilles in the south of France where Mary Magdalen supposedly lived in the cave of La Ste-Baume for the last thirty years of her life. Although it seems likely that all four lunette frescoes were removed from the walls at the same time that the chapel was dismembered, the other three apparently have not survived. However, the scenes in two of the lunettes were reproduced, as Vasari states, in engravings. Helpfully, Pierre Jean Mariette (1694-1774), writing in the eighteenth century before the chape l was redecorated, described the disposition of each of the frescoes in the chapel and identified the engravings associated with them. (14)
The first scene described by Mariette is Mary Magdalen Anointing Christ's Feet in the House of Simon the Pharisee, which he associates with the print of the same subject by Marcantonio (Fig. 5). (15) Mariette states that the fresco was in the lunette over the stained-glass, or leaded-glass, window ("du vitrail") above the altar. The upper arch of the full lunette shape, although not indicated in the print, can be easily imagined as fitting over the design. Directly opposite, above the arched entrance to the chapel, appeared Martha Leading Mary Magdalen to Christ, (16) which is reproduced in Marcantonio's print (Fig. 6). (17) Two drawings of the scene survive, one in Munich and the other in Chatsworth (Fig. 7). (18) In both drawings, the upper portion is curved, reflecting the upper arch of the lunette. Besides the upper arch of the lunette, the original fresco had also to accommodate the curve of the entrance arch. Although not indicated in either drawing, this lower curve can be easily imagined below the fi gures, eliminating in the fresco the otherwise empty steps in the foreground. Details of the scene recall Raphael's tapestry design for Saint Paul Preaching in Athens, which Marcantonio engraved about 1515-16 (Fig. 8). (19) In particular, a correspondence may be noted between the figure at the left in both scenes watching with bearded chin in hand as well as the figure of Dionysius the Areopagite, converted by Saint Paul's preaching, on the right in the one print and the figure with a similar open-armed gesture in the center background of the other. The visual correspondence serves to underscore the theme of conversion.
Mariette notes that, contrary to Vasari's statement, the remaining two scenes were not engraved by Marcantonio. He does, however, specify the scenes occupying the lateral lunettes in the chapel as Mary Magdalen in the Desert and Mary Magdalen Borne Up by Angels, which is identified with the fresco fragment in London. (20) Unfortunately, no clue remains to indicate what the fresco of Mary Magdalen in the Desert may have looked like.
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Mary Magdalen as a Penitent Prostitute
The choice of scenes from the life of Mary Magdalen seems obviously appropriate for the chapel of a repentant prostitute. By the time the Magdalen Chapel was being decorated, Mary Magdalen's identity as a repentant prostitute had been long established. Western liturgical texts upheld the tradition that Mary Magdalen, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was originally a prostitute who anointed Christ, obtained forgiveness for her sins, and became his follower. However, this traditional identification of Mary Magdalen as a repentant prostitute did not become established until the sixth century. Previously, Mary Magdalen, who is mentioned by name in all four Gospels, was distinguished from a second woman named Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and from a third woman, an unnamed sinner, who anointed Christ's feet, mentioned in Luke 7:36-50. In homily 33, however, delivered probably in 591, Pope Gregory the Great took the step of identifying Luke's unnamed sinner with Mary Magdalen: "We believe that this woman [Mary Magdalen] is Luke's female sinner, the woman John calls Mary, and that Mary from whom Mark says seven demons were cast out [Hanc vero quam Lucas peccatricem mulierem, Joannes Mariam nominal, illam esse Mariam credimus de qua Marcus septem daemonia ejecta fuisse testatur]." (51) The seven demons Gregory identified as "all the vices [Et quid per septem daemonia, nisi universa vitia designantur?]," by which he meant the seven so-called cardinal sins (including lust, which was understood as inordinate or illicit sexual desire). (52) Gregory then explained that the ointment used by Luke's unnamed sinner, now Mary Magdalen, to anoint Christ's feet had previously been used by her "to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts [Liquet... quod illicitus actibus prius mulier intenta unguentum sibi pro adore suae carnis adhibuit]." It was Gregory who also associated her, again primarily through identification with Luke's unnamed sinner, as a penitent when he explained that by immolating herself at the feet of Jesus, "sh e turned the mass of her crimes to virtues, in order to serve God entirely in penance [Convertit ad virtutum numerum criminum, ut totum serviret Deo in poenitentia]." (53)
Soon thereafter, perhaps as early as the seventh century, began to emerge the legend of Mary Magdalen that eventually produced a cult of great popularity. Lacking entirely any scriptural basis, the legend relates that after Christ's ascension Mary Magdalen could no longer look on any other man, and so she went into the desert, where she stayed alone for thirty years. She lived naked and took no human food or drink, yet she never felt hungry or thirsty. At the canonical hours angels came down from heaven and took her up into the air, where she was nourished by the heavenly joys. The angels then returned her to her cave in the rocks. After thirty years a holy priest came upon her in the desert; he lent her some clothes and conducted her to his church, where he gave her the sacrament. She then died and the priest buried her. (54) It has been recognized since at least the ninth century that the basis for the story of the penitential part of Mary Magdalen's life was the legend of Saint Mary of Egypt. According to the story told in the thirteenth century by Jacobus de Voragine in The Golden Legend, after living as a prostitute for seventeen years in Alexandria, Mary traveled by ship (paid for by selling her body to all the men on board) from Egypt to Palestine where, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, she repented and retreated to the desert. She lived there for many years on three loaves of bread. Eventually her clothes wore out and she lived naked. (55) The conflation of the two stories also served to establish more clearly Mary Magdalen's identity as a former prostitute. (56)
The image of Mary Magdalen as a penitent prostitute fully emerges in the wake of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the founding of the two great mendicant orders, the Franciscans and the Dominicans. Canon 21 promulgated by the Fourth Lateran Council was a reformulation of the sacrament of penance. Canon 10 officially sanctioned popular preaching by the mendicant orders. Both decrees were to have an immediate impact on Mary Magdalen's role. (57) Both the Franciscans and the Dominicans made the preaching of penance central to their sermons, and from the outset Mary Magdalen was adopted as the model penitent saint, the paradigm of penance. (58) Judging by the number of lay orders of penitents and companies of disciplinati that were founded at this time, the preaching of penance by the Franciscans and the Dominicans was an immediate success. (59) The sermons gave Mary Magdalen a new significance and heightened interest in her both as a penitent and as a prostitute.
The late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries saw a revival of the medieval preoccupation with the conversion of prostitutes. Not only had the number of prostitutes increased, but also the appearance of the disease of syphilis in the late fifteenth century made them a threat to public health, and interest was renewed in creating institutions to contain them. The founding of the convent of the Convertite della Maddalena in Rome is just one example of many.
Preachers set out anew to convert prostitutes, and special missions were sometimes set up for their conversion, such as the one conducted in Rome by the famous preacher Egidio da Viterbo during Lent in 1508. (60)
s she had been since the thirteenth century, Mary Magdalen served as the example for the converted prostitute to follow. However, whereas in the thirteenth century Mary Magdalen was promoted as the paradigm of penance, in the fifteenth century her conversion and her life prior to it drew more attention. This change in emphasis can be clearly seen in the plays and liturgical dramas of the period. As early as the tenth century Mary Magdalen had been appearing in the Quem queritis (Whom do you seek?) plays performed as part of the Easter liturgy, in which she figured prominently in the story of the visit to the tomb. (61) In the thirteenth century her character and role were significantly expanded to incorporate details of her life as a prostitute and her subsequent conversion and repentance.
The "Quarrel of the Magdalens" and the Chapel's Decorations
Of the five Magdalen scenes depicted in the courtesan's chapel, only two, the Noli me tangere in the altarpiece and Mary Magdalen Anointing Christ's Feet in the House of Simon, located in the lunette directly above, come from Gospel accounts. (62) The remaining three scenes are drawn from the legend of Mary Magdalen. These can be easily identified and their pertinence to, and meaning for, a converted prostitute can be just as easily explained. However, some of the scenes also contain novel and curious features in terms of conventional treatment. While these features can be understood within the context of their meaning for the chapel's patron or primary viewer, at the same time they can be understood as a statement of the position of the Church on the hotly debated contemporary question of the identity of Mary Magdalen.
In 1518, Pope Gregory's long-standing composite Magdalen was questioned by the French humanist Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples (also known as Faber Stapulensis). In his book De Maria Magdalena, published in Paris by Henri Estienne, Lefevre argued that the medieval Magdalen was a conflation of three separate New Testament women. His claim provoked considerable debate--known as the Quarrel of the Magdalens--which continued into the 1520s. The dispute had begun innocently enough. Following a pilgrimage to La SteBaume in January 1516, Louise of Savoy, the mother of Francis I, had asked Francois du Moulin de Rochefort, an old friend of the royal family and the king's former tutor, to write a life of Mary Magdalen. (63) Du Moulin dutifully set about producing a manuscript, the Vie de Saincte Madeleine, illustrated with seventy small round miniatures documenting the life of Mary Magdalen painted by the Flemish manuscript illuminator Godefroy le Batave. (64) For help in sorting out the conflicting details of the Gospel ac counts, du Moulin turned to his former teacher, the pious and scholarly humanist Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples. In his examination of the story of the Magdalen, Lefevre revived a tradition found among the early Greek fathers, such as Origen and Chrysostom, as well as Jerome and Ambrose, that distinguished three different women. Lefevre was especially concerned to separate the woman named Mary Magdalen from the unnamed sinner found in Luke 7:36-50. Lefevre's argument, undertaken with impeccable scholarly exegesis, effectively undermined the existence of one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages. This did not please conservative forces in the Church, and the reaction to Lefevre's argument was immediate. (65)
The first response came from Marc de Grandval, an Augustinian canon of St-Victor in Paris, who published an apologia in September 1518 arguing that there was only one Mary Magdalen. (66) Four months later John Fisher, bishop of Rochester and chancellor of Cambridge University, weighed in with three tracts in which he attacked Lefevre's arguments and upheld the conservative position of the Church. (67) Lefevre also had his defenders. In response to Grandval's apologia, Josse Clichtove published Disceptationis de Magdalena, defensio: Apologia Marci Grandivallis illam improbare nitentis, ex adverso respondens in April 1519, in which he expanded Lefevre's arguments. Meanwhile, in response to Fisher's criticisms of his book, Lefevre published a second treatise: De tribus et unica Magdalena disceptalio secunda. In his first book, Lefevre had argued that of the three women in question, two had been named Mary Magdalen. This difficult and confusing position Lefevre abandoned in his second book and focused instead on distinguishing the woman named Mary Magdalen from Mary the sister of Martha. Fisher, however, was not satisfied with this reformulation and responded with his Confutatio secundae disceptationis, published in September 1519. More tracts were published as others entered the fray. By 1520, the "quarrel" had begun to die down, though tracts, such as the two by Giovanni Maria Tholosani delle Colle, a Dominican pupil of Savonarola at S. Marco in Florence, continued to be written as late as 1522. (68)
It was during these same years that the project to decorate the Magdalen Chapel was undertaken. The wall inside the arched entrance to the chapel held the most unusual of the frescoes, Martha Leading Mary Magdalen to Christ (Fig. 6). At a time when Lefevre was arguing that Mary Magdalen should not be identified with Mary the sister of Martha, the fresco does exactly that, in a way that emphasizes the importance of Martha to Mary Magdalen's conversion. Moreover, it offers a novel depiction of this episode. The story of Mary Magdalen's conversion recounted in the Golden Legend focuses mostly on Martha's efforts to persuade her sister to go and hear Christ preaching. A fifteenth-century Tuscan manuscript version of the Golden Legend story in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence, elaborates on the scene and describes how the two sisters went together and sat in a place where they could clearly see and hear him ("Et giunte che furono la doue xpo [Cristo] predicaua si posono assedere in un certo luogo che poteuano m olto bene uedere et intendere"). (69) Hearing Christ's words, Mary undergoes her conversion. The scene was also recounted in plays. In the fifteenth-century Passion play Le mystere de Ia Passion by Jean Michel, for example, Mary Magdalen is portrayed as a worldly courtesan who hears about Christ and how handsome he is and decides to seduce him. She is instead won over by him and undergoes a conversion. (70) The story of her conversion made a popular subject for sermons as well. The famous preacher Michel Menot, for example, captivated the crowds in 1508 with his dramatic recital of it. (71) In 1519, the same year that Menot's sermons were published posthumously, Josse Clichtove drew on such sermons in his Disceptationis de Magdalena, defrnsio to illustrate the moral unseemliness of the conversion story. He tells the story himself, relating how Mary Magclalen was perceived as "extremely vain in every way" and that:
The more Martha urged her to flee these worldly vanities and to think of her family's good name, the more she mocked her sister's good advice. And even when Martha often suggested that her sister go with her to hear the Lord... she had nothing but contempt for the idea. But at length, when Martha added that he was very handsome, the idea of a good-looking man prompted her to go with her sister. She was eager to see, not to hear. And as soon as she saw the Lord, she fell in love with him. But the Lord by his words began to soften her heart and bend it to the desire for repentance. (72)
Surprisingly, despite widespread familiarity with the story at the popular level, the scene of the Magdalen's conversion appears only rarely in Renaissance art. Among the few examples depicting the scene prior to the fresco in the Magdalen Chapel is Sandro Botticelli's Conversion of Mary Magdalen, one of four predella panels painted about 1491 for the Pala delle Convertite (Fig. 9). (73) The scene shows Christ standing at the right preaching in the atrium of a church, with the redcloaked Magdalen standing alone to the left of the crowd, undergoing her conversion. The moment depicted in the painting, which must have been underscored as well in the plays and sermons, dramatizes Mary Magdalen's love of Christ. Already in the fourteenth century in the popular devotional treatise The Meditations on the Life of Christ, it was emphasized that it was the Magdalen's single-minded love of Christ that had brought about her conversion: "The Magdalen, who perhaps had heard Him preach a few times and loved him ardently, a lthough she had not yet revealed it ... was touched to the heart with pain at her sins and inflamed by the fire of her love for Him." (74) In Botticelli's predella panel, Martha is not actually present at this moment. By contrast, in the Magdalen Chapel fresco, Martha's role in the conversion is made very clear through the felicitous invention of having her lead her sister up the steps toward the seated figure of Christ at right (Fig. 6).
. . . ..
An earlier version of this study was read as a paper at the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) in Memphis, Tennessee, 1991. The sections devoted to Mary Magdalen are drawn from papers presented at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in St. Louis in 1993 and at the conference "Mary Magdalen in History and Legend" at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1997. Research and travel in the United States and Europe and the purchase of photographs were made possible with grants from Sweet Briar College. I want to thank Perry Chapman, for her astute editorial comments, and the two readers, Alexander Nagel and Sheryl Weiss, for their helpful observations and suggestions. My thanks also to Lynn Laufenberg and Arne Flaten for reading the penultimate draft of this paper, and to Lory Frankel for her help in producing the final draft.
All biblical quotes are from The New Oxford Annotated Bible (New Revised Standard Edition), ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Roland E. Murphy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
(1.) The convent and church of SS. Trinita dei Monti is built on land purchased by King Charles VIII of France (1470-1498) for the newly established Order of Minims (the Minimi Frati Eremiti di Francesco di Paola), founded by the austere Franciscan hermit Francesco di Paola (1416-1507). The foundation of the convent by Cardinal Guillaume Briconnet was approved by Pope Alexander VI on February 21, 1495, but construction was not begun until 1502, with the support of a generous donation by Louis XII (1462-1515). Work continued under Francis I (1494-1547) and was perhaps nearing completion on January 1, 1518, when Leo X signaled his favor by granting the church several indulgences. The following year, on May 1, 1519, the canonization of Francesco di Paola was celebrated with much solemnity by Leo X in St. Peter's. By then the decoration of the chapels in the church was most likely under way. For the history of the church and convent, see Luigi Salerno, Chiesa e convento della Santissima Trinita dei Monti in Rome (Bologna: n.p., 1968). See also Giuseppe Vasi, Delle magnificenze di Roma antica e moderna, libro settimo che contiene i Conventi e Case dei Chierici Regolari (Rome: Stamperia del Chraca, 1756), 51; and Pastor, vol. 6 (1923), 180-81, vol. 8 (1923), 446. A source I have not been able to consult is a manuscript in the possession of the Dames du Sacre-Coeur, Histoire du convent ... de la tres Sainte Trinite, cited by Maria Vittoria Brugnoli, "Gli affreschi di Perin del Vaga nella Cappella Pucci: Note sulla prima attivita Romana del pittore," Bollettino d'Arte 47 (1962): 345 n. 4. Because of the support of the French kings, the church and convent were granted the special privilege of being occupied and governed by French members of the Order of Minims. For the Order of Minims, see Alessandro Galuzzi, Origini dell'Ordine dei Minimi (Rome: Libreria Editrice della Pontificia Universita Lateranense, 1967). In 1828 the church and convent were given to Saint Madeleine-Sophie Barat (1779-1865), the founder (in 1800) of the Society of the Sacred Heart (the French Dames du Sacre-Coeur), a religious congregation of women devoted to the education of girls. It may be noted, however, that Carolyn Valone, "The Art of Hearing: Sermons and Images in the Chapel of Lucrezia della Rovere," Sixteenth Century Journal 31 (2000): 754 n. 4, citing research by Pio Pecchiai (see below) and Alessandro Galuzzi, has stated that French claims of sovereignty at the church and convent date only from the early 19th century.
(2.) Vasari, vol. 5, 621: "nelle lunette erano quattro istorie a fresco di Santa Maria Maddalena, e nella tavola a olio un Cristo che appare a Maria Maddalena in forma d'ortolano." This information does not appear in the 1550 edition, where Vasari simply says, "the vault and the lunettes painted and adorned with stucco, and the altarpiece painted in oils, all by Giulio Romano and Perino's brother-in-law, Giovanfrancesco [dipinta la volta & le lunette con ornamenti di stucco. & cosi la tavola a olio di mano di Giulio Romano & Gianfrancesco suo Cognato]" (Perino was Penni's brother-in-law because he had married Penni's sister). See Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de' piu eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori (Florence, 1550; facsimile ed., New York: Broude International Editions, 1980), vol. 2, 937.
(3.) Vasari, vol. 5, 417: "Ie quattro sotrie della Maddalena, e i quattro Evangelisti che sono nella volta della cappella della Trinita, fatte per una meretrice."
(4.) Vasari, vol. 5, 622: "in questa cappella era in una faccia una bellissima sepoltura di marmo, e sopra la cassa una femmina morta, di marmo, state eccellentemente lavorata dal Bologna scultore; e due putti ignudi dalle bande; nel volto della qual femina era il ritratto e l'effigie d'una famosissima cortigiana di Roma." In the 1550 edition, Vasari (as in n. 2), 937, says only that "against one wall of [the chapel] was a marble sarcophagus made for a very famous courtesan with some very well-carved putti [una sepoltura di marmo che era in faccia di quella, fatta ad una cortigiana famosissima con certi putti molto ben lavorati]." The sarcophagus was carved by the Bolognese sculptor Domenico Aimo, whom Vasari calls "Bologna" and who was also called "il Varignano."
For Aimo, see the entry in Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Kunstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1907-50), vol. 1, 152. In his life of Andrea Sansovino, Vasari mentions that after Sansovino's death, one of his sculptural works for the S. Casa at Loreto was completed in 1526 by Domenico Aimo, assisted by Francesco da Sangallo, Tribolo, and Raffaello da Montelupo (Vasari, vol. 4, 520, and Milanesi's n. 1). A statue of Leo X in the left transept of S. Maria d'Aracoeli was apparently carved by Domenico Aimo in 1518-20. For a document, dated 1511, pertaining to his work in Bologna, see James H. Beck, "A Document Regarding Domenico da Varignano," Milleilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 2 (1964):193-94.
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(8.) Questions of authorship and attribution of the altarpiece and frescoes are discussed in the Appendix.
(9.) Museo del Prado, inv. no. 323, panel, 7 ft. 3 in. by 5 ft. 3 in. (2.2 by 1.6 m). The painting was acquired by the museum in 1872, as noted in Rafael en Espana, exh. cat., Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, 161, cat. no. 21. The copy that replaced the original in the chapel in the 19th century (noted by Pistolesi in n. 6 above) at some later date went to Naples, where it is now in the Pinacoteca. It is mentioned by Ferdinando Bologna, Roviale spagnuolo e la pittura napoletana del cinquecento (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1959), 73-74.
(10.) Mary Magdalen's encounter with Christ is described in both Mark 16:9-20 and John 20:14-18. The representation of Christ as a gardener in the altarpiece is based on John 20:15: "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.'"
(11.) An example of the print is in the print collection of the British Museum, inv. no. 1874-6-13-620. It is signed in the lower left, "Joannes baptista de Cavalleris / incidebat 1570" and inscribed in the lower margin, "NOLI ME TANGERE NONDVM ENIM ASCENDI AD PATREM 10.XX." The line is from John 20 (as indicated in the inscription), verse 17: "'Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.'"
(12.) Cecil Gould, The Sixteenth-Century Italian Schools, National Gallery Catalogues (London: National Gallery Publications, 1975), 120, cat. no. 225. According to Gould, the fresco was transferred and mounted on canvas in the 19th century and cleaned and remounted on a rigid support in 1969. The lunette-shaped fragment, formerly in the possession of M. Joly de Bammeville, had been presented by Lord Overstone to the National Gallery in 1852. In 1870, Mrs. Jameson described it as "cut from the walls of the chapel in the Trinita dei Monti." Mrs. Jameson [Anna Brownell Murphy], Sacred and Legendary Art, 6th ed. (London: Longmans, Green, 1870), 374.
(13.) Bartsch, no. 388. The print is reproduced in Henry Zerner, Ecole de Fontainebleau: Gravures (Paris: Arts et Metiers Graphiques, 1969), as L.D. 73. The artist of the print increased the drama of the scene by heightening the sense of ecstasy through the addition of rays of light flashing out from the central group and by altering facial expressions, most notably that of the topmost angel and to a lesser degree that of the Magdalen herself.
(14.) Mariette, 284-86.
(15.) Ibid., 284. The print, with Marcantonio's blank tablet in the lower right, is listed in Bartsch, no. 23. Mariette also mentions a copy of the print dated 1530 with the initials IF in the tablet. Bartsch lists this as copy B, by an anonymous engraver. IF has been identified as Jacopo Francia. It may be noted that Parmigianino made a drawing after the print (collection of G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, Donnington Priory, Newbury, Eng.), an anonymous copy of which is in the Art Museum at Princeton University. See Felton Gibbons, Catalogue of Italian Drawings in the Art Museum, Princeton University (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), 131, cat. no. 433.
(16.) Mariette, 285.
(17.) Bartsch 45. The subject was correctly identified by Mariette, 285. See also Innis Shoemaker, The Engravings of Marcantonio Raimondi, exh. cat., Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, and Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1981, cat. no. 56. It is believed that Vasari was describing this print, but incorrectly identified the subject, when he referred to Marcantonio as having engraved "a scene of Our Lady ascending the steps of the Temple [una storia di Nostra Donna che saglie i gradi del tempio]" (Vasari, vol. 5, 417).
(18.) Graphische Sammlung, Munich, inv. no. 2989; Chatsworth, inv. no. 63. See Konrad Oberhuber, Raphaels Zeichnungen, vol. 9, Entwurfe zu Werken Raphaels und seiner Schule im Vatikan 1511-12 bis 1520 (Berlin: Mann, 1972), 29; Richard Harprath, Italienische Zeichnungen des 16. Jahrhunderts aus eigenem Besitz, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (Munich: Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, 1977), cat. no. 79; and Paul Joannides, The Drawings of Raphael (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 30.
(19.) Bartsch, 44.
(20.) Mariette, 285.
(51.) Gregory the Great, Homiliarum in evangelia, Lib. 11, in Pat, Int. (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1844-64), vol. 76, cols. 1238-46.
(52.) The seven cardinal sins were first grouped as such by Gregory. The passages that mention Christ casting out the seven devils from Mary Magdalen are in Luke 8:1-3, and Mark 16:9.
(53.) Gregory's composite Magdalen was quickly assimilated into the sermons and writings of tie early Middle Ages. It can be recognized, for example, in the words of Saint Ambrose quoted by Jacobus de Voragine, vol. 1, 376. For the popularity of Gregory's homilies, see Patricia Allwin De Leeuw, "Gregory the Great's 'Homilies on the Gospels' in the Early Middle Ages," Studi Medievali 26 (1985): 855-69. With respect to the identity of Mary Magdalen, it must be added that in the recently discovered Gnostic Gospels, Mary Magdalen is revealed in a somewhat different light. See James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). Through research conducted by Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York Random House, 1979), and Giovanni Filoramo, A History of Gnosticism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), it has been made clear that Mary Magdalen, unlike the reformed prostitute later in the Western tradition, was in fact one of the leading female disciples or followers of Christ, a woman who pla yed a role equal, if not superior, to that of Simon Peter. Among the extracanonical Gospels mentioning Mary Magdalen, see Dialogue of the Savior, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of the Herbrews, and Gospel of Mary (in the Greek version; the Gospel is also known in a Coptic version). In addition, Mary Magdalen also figures in Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Truth, and Pistis Sophia. The most significant indication of her importance, however, appears in the Synoptic Gospels, where it is reported that on his resurrection, Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalen. It has been suggested that Gregory's transformation of Mary Magdalen into a prostitute was a way of countering the problem she posed for the Church. Since the 2nd century, as Christianity became institutionalized along increasingly patriarchal lines, the prominence of Mary Magdalen had posed the threat of sanctioning a leadership role for women in the Church. See Joseph Grassi and Carolyn Grassi, Mary Magdalen and the Women in Jesus' Life (Kansas Ci ty, Mo.: Sheed and Ward, 1986). See also Rosemary Radford Ruether, Womanguides: Readings toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985); Mary Rose D'Angelo, "Women in Luke-Acts: A Redactional View," Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1990): 441-61; idem, "Women Partners in the New Testament," Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 6 (1990): 65-86; and Ross Shepard Kraemer, Her Share of the Blessings: Women's Religions among Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Greco-Roman World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). See also Haskins, 33-55.
(54.) The story appears as early as the 9th century in the manuscript Vita eremitica beatae Mariae Magdalenae, which, in the Middle Ages, was believed to have been written either by the Jewish scholar and historian Flavius Josephus (ca. 37-ca. 100) or by the Greek Christian historian Saint Hegesippus (late 2nd century). While acknowledging the reference in contemporary sources to Josephus, Jacobus de Voragine, 381, cites the story as told by Hegesippus. See also Victor Saxer, Le culte de Marie Madeleine en Occident: Des origines a la fin du Moyen Age (Paris: Clavreuil, 1959), 126. A detail found in the legend of Mary Magdalen that had been circulating since at least the 9th century says that after Christ's ascension she fled into "the Arabian desert" (see n. 56 below). In the 11th century, hagiographers began to locate this episode in Provence in the south of France, the earliest dated reference being a papal bull issued by Pope Benedict IX in 1040 in connection with the consecration of the abbey church of St -Victor in Marseilles. The bull recognized that the church was built on the ruins of a church (destroyed by the Saracens) in which Saint Lazarus, "raised from the dead by Jesus Christ," had been buried with other companions, including Saint Victor. See C. M. Girdlestone, "The Tradition of the Manes in Provence," Blackfriars 32 (1951): 409. This location was reinforced in the middle of the 11th century when the abbey of Vezelay under Abbot Geoffrey claimed to possess the body of Mary Magdalen. Then, in the 13th century, the legend was further localized with the identification of the cave where legend says Mary Magdalen spent her years in penitential solitude as the cavern known as La Ste-Baume high up in the massif of Provence, about fifteen miles from Marseilles. (Haskins, 120, translates "Ste-Baume" as "Holy Balm." No doubt Mary Magdalen became associated with the cave because of the name "balm," an aromatic ointment.) The legend of Mary Magdalen in Provence has been the subject of many studies and intense d ebate. The first major study was undertaken by Etienne Michel Faillon, Monuments inedits its sur l'apsotolat de Sainte Marie-Madeleine en Provence: Et sur les autres apotres de cette contree; Saint Lazare, saint Maximin, sainte Marthe et les saintes Maries Jacobe et Salome, 2 vols. (Paris: J. P. Migne, 1848). The legend's utter lack of historicity, however, was subsequently demonstrated by Louis Duchesne, "La legende de Sainte Marie-Madeleine," Annales du Midi 5 (1893): 1-33, republished in Fastes episcopaux de l'ancienne Gaule, 2d ed., vol. 1 (Paris: A. Fontemoing, 1907), 321-60. Duchesne's conclusions, however, were not universally welcomed by defenders of the tradition. Georges Donicieux's critique of Duchesne's article, "Les Sarcophages de Saint-Maximin et la legende do Marie-Madeleine," Annales du Midi 11(1894): 351-60, was followed by more elaborate objections voiced by Abbe Berenger, Les traditions provencales: Reponse aux argument de M. l'abbe Duchesne (Marseilles: Imprimerie Marseillasse, 1904). Thes e objections, however, were effectively refuted by Elphege Vacandard, "De la venue de Lazare et de Marie-Madeleine en Provence," Revue des Questions Historiques 100 (1924): 257-305. In defense of the legend, see also Abbe Joseph Escudier, L'evangelisation primitive de la Provence: Expose des preuves de l'apostolat et de la mart des saints Lazare, Maximin, Marthe, Marie-Madeleine, let Saintes Manes, Jacobe et Salome en ce pays (Paris: Toulon, Maison Sainte Jeanne d'Arc, 1929).
(55.) Jacobus de Voragine, 227-29. The story of Saint Mary of Egypt, recorded in the 7th century in a Greek text attributed to Sophronius (ca. 560-638), is related by Mary herself to the monk Zosimus, who found her in the desert toward the end of her life. For Saint Mary of Egypt, see Ruth Mazo Karras, "Holy Harlots: Prostitutes in Medieval Legend," Journal of the History of Sexuality 1 (1990): 6-10, with additional bibliography in her footnotes; Bullough and Bullough (as in n. 29), 67-68; and Haskins, 111. For Byzantine images of Saint Mary of Egpyt, see Henry Maguire, The Icons of Their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in Byzantium (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 31, 73-74.
(56.) It should be noted, however, that the association of the story of Saint Mary of Egypt with that of Mary Magdalen was not universally approved. According to Girdlestone (as inn. 54), 412-13, a 14th-century manuscript of the life of Saint Mary Magdalen in Magdalen College, Oxford, for example, attributed by Faillon (as in n. 54) to the 9th-century archbishop of Mainz, Rabanus Maurus (an attribution now largely rejected, although the 9th-century dating is still generally supported), dismisses the legend: "That after Our Saviour's Ascension she should have fled at once into the Arabian desert, should have lived there unknown to all, without clothing, in a cave, and that she should have seen no one; that, visited by a priest, she should have asked him for his garments, and suchlike details, are as many false stories, borrowed by fable-mongers from the story of the Egyptian penitent"; quoted in Girdlestone, 412. Virtually the same story is repeated in a 13th-century manuscript collection of saints' lives in the Bibliotheque do l'Ecole de Medecine de Montpellier: "Caeterum, quad post Salvatoris ascensionem statim in heremum Arabiae fugerit; quod in specu sine veste latuerit; quod numquam postea virum viderit; quod a presbytero, nescio quo visitata vestem petient et cactera hujusmodi falsissima sunt et a fictoribus fabularum de gestis poenitentis Egyptiacae mutata. Quin et ipsi in inicio fabulae suse mendacii se accusant, Josepho dissertissimo historiographo narrationem suam ascribentes, cum Josephus, in libris suis nusquam Marie Magdalene meminerit." Cited in Maximin Sicard, Sainte Marie-Madeleine (Paris: Savaete, 1910), 313, and quoted in Jean Misrahi, "A Vita Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae (B.H.L. 5456) in an Eleventh-Century Manuscript," Speculum 18 (1943): 336-37. These responses also give proof of the currency of the story.
(57.) See Jansen. See also A. Michel, "Penitence du IVe candle du Latran a la reforme," in Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, vol. 12 (Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1933). For Canon 10, promulgated on November 11, see also Marie-Humbert Vicaire, OP., Saint Dominic and His Times, trans. Kathleen Pond (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1964), 196.
(58.) Francis of Assisi and his disciples were granted permission to preach by Innocent III, but only on the topic of repentance. See Jansen, 4 and n. 9; and Haskins, 146. Although Saint Francis himself did not include Mary Magdalen among those saints whom he designated for veneration in the Regula prima, the Franciscans found her compatible with the order's preoccupation with penance. The Dominicans, founded in 1216, had by 1295 unofficially adopted Mary Magdalen as their patron (Jansen, 2 and n. 3; and Haskins, 147). This adoption coincided with the Dominicans being granted supervision of the important Magdalen pilgrimage sites of La Ste-Baume and St-Maximin in Provence. See also Sarah Wilk, "The Cult of Mary Magdalen in Fifteenth-Century Florence and Its Iconography," Studi Medievali 26 (1985): 687-88.
(59.) See Jansen, 4, 5 n. 12, for literature on penitents and disciplinati. For penitents in connection with Mary Magdalen, see Simon (as in n. 45); and Fernand Discry, "La regle des Penitents do Sainte Marie-Madeleine, d'apres le manuscrit do Saint-Quirin do Huy," Bulletin de la Commission Royale d'Historie 121 (1956): 83-145. For the disciplinati, see Haskins, 145.
(60.) Pastor, vol. 5, 131. Egidio (or Giles) Canisio da Viterbo became vicar-general of the Augustinians and was made a cardinal by Leo X. For Egidio da Viterbo, see John O'Malley, Giles of Viterbo on Church and Reform (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1968); and idem, Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome: Rhetoric, Doctrine, and Reform in the Sacred Orators of the Papal Court, c. 1450-1521 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1979).
(61.) For examples of Quem queritis plays, see Joseph Q. Adams, Chief Pre-Shakespearean Dramas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924), 9-20. See also Gustave Cohen, "Le personnage do Marie-Madeleine dans le drame religieux francais du Moyen-Age," Convivium 24 (1956): 141-63.
(62.) The scene of Christ's appearance to Mary Magdalen is in John 20:14-18. See below for the biblical sources for the scene Mary Magdalen Anointing Christ's Feet in the House of Simon.
(63.) For du Moulin, see Marie Holban, "Francois do Moulin do Rochefort et la Querelle do la Madeleine," Humanisme et Renaissance 11 (1935): 26-43, 147-71.
(64.) The manuscript (Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale do France fr. 24.955) and its illustrations are discussed in Holban (as in n. 63); and Myra Dickman Orth, "The Magdalen Shrine of La Sainte-Baume in 1516: A Series of Miniatures by Godefroy le Batave," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 98 (1981): 201-14.
(65.) The most accessible summary of the "quarrel" is Hufstader. See also Holban (as in n. 63); and Richard Cameron, "The Attack an the Biblical Work of Lefevre d'Etaples 1514-1521," Church History 38 (1969): 13-24.
(66.) Marci de Grandval theologi, ecclesiae catholicae non tres Magdalenas sed unicam colentis: Apologia seu defensorum (Paris: Josse Bade, 1518).
(67.) Reverendi Patris Joannis Fisscher [sic] Reffensis in Anglia Episcopi, necnon Cantabrigien, academiae Cancellarii dignissimi, de unica Magdalene, Libri tres (Paris: Josse Bade, 1519).
(68.) Hufstader, 40 n. 38, records that Tholosani's manuscripts, De Maria Magdalene (1522), and Disceptatio in Jodoc. Clicht. Jacobi Fabri defensorum (1522), are in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence.
(69.) Florence, Bibl. Naz. ms Leggendario dei Santi, Codice Palatino, N. 131, fols. 70-72. The text is cited at length in Herbert P. Horne, "La tavola d'altare delle Convertite dipinta da Sandra Botticelli," Rassegna d'Arte 13 (1913): 149-50. Her conversion was also the subject of printed books, such as the popular La miracolosa conversione de Santa Maria Maddalena, which was published in numerous editions throughout this period. For copies illustrated with woodcuts, see Max Sander, Le livre a figures italien depuis 1467 jusqu a 1530 (New York: G. E. Stechert, 1941), nos. 4097-99.
(70.) Jean Michel, Le mystere de la Passion (Angers 1486), ed. Omer Jodogne (Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1959). For a brief synopsis of Michel's mystery play, see Marjorie M. Malvern, Venus in Sackcloth: The Magdalen's Origins and Metamorphoses (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1975), 109-12. See also Cohen (as in n. 61), 154-63. For Mary Magdalen in religious drama in the 15th and 16th centuries, see Lilia Sebastiani, Tra/Sfigurazione: Il perso-naggio evangelico di Maria di Magdala e il mito della peccatrice redenta nella tradizione occidentale (Brescia: Queriniana, 1992), 170-85.
(71.) Sermons choisis de Michel Menot (1508-1518), ed. Joseph Neve (Paris: E. Champion, 1924), 148-51.
(72.) Josse Clichtove, Disceptationis de Magdalena, Defensio, fols. 71v-72r, quoted in Hufstader, 56 and n. 88: "et in omni re, ut sic dicam, vanissimam, et cum eam Martha frequenter hortaretur, ut hasce vanitates saeculi fugeret, famae, et claribus natalibus consuleret: pia soraris monita derisisse, cumque etiam Martha multum cam solicitaret, ut secum iret auditura dominum, auditura inquam tam sanctam virum...hace omnia cantempsisse. tandem tamen cum Martha adiecisset, eum omnium longe pulcherrimum esse: audita tanta virilis formae elegantia, motam fuisse videndi studio, non audiendi devotione, atque ivisse cum Martha, cumque vidisset dominum: protinus coepisse ipsum amare, Dominum vero: verbis suis coepisse car cius emollire, et ad desyderium poenitentiac flectere."
(73.) All four predella panels, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, are discussed by Ronald Lightbown, Sandro Botticelli (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), vol. 1, 111-12, vol. 2, cat. nos. B63-B66. The altarpiece, now in the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, was painted for the high altar of S. Elisabetta delle Convertite in Florence. Fifteenth-century records give the name of the monastery as "Ii Monastero di Sant'Elisabetta, Regina di Ungheria, e di Santa Maria Maddalena, detto delle Convertite." See Horne (as in n. 69), 147-54. As the name convertite indicates, the monastery and church, founded in 1329, had been established for converted prostitutes. See Maria Serena Mazzi, Prostitute e lenoni nella Firenze del quattrocento (Milan: Saggiatore. 1991), 393-403.
(74.) Meditations on the Life of Christ: An illustrated Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Ms. Ital., 115, ed. and trans. Isa Ragusa and Rosalie B. Green (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), 170.
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About the Author:
Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe has recently completed a book, Copyright in the Renaissance: Prints and the "Privilegio" in Sixteenth-Century Venice and Rome, and is writing another, The Visual Experience: Understanding Art and Everyday Images. He also maintains the popular Web site "Art History Resources on the Web" (witcombe.sbc.edu/ARTHLinks.htmlhr) [Department of Art History, Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Va. 24595].
Witcombe also maintains a webpage for a course on DaVinci's Code at Sweet Briar College, Fall 2004: