The Mourning Mary Magdalene
The repentant Mary Magdalene as an iconographical type, depicting the penitence of the beautiful young woman who has led a sinful life, was a well-known subject for painters. Here, however, Mary Magdalene appears in the role of a mourner, and, together with the Sorrowful St John the Evangelist (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest), may have belonged to a Passion altarpiece or a Pietŕ. The prototype of this Mary Magdalene, wearing ornate, worldly clothes, tilting her head on her clasped hands and weeping, can be seen in Rogier van der Weyden's Deposition (Prado, Madrid, late 1430s). However, in Colijn de Coter's work the gesture loses its dramatic force and grief is mitigated into a quiet sorrow. The motif of the kerchief piled in ample folds onto her head, and the decorative details of the dress show the master to be a close follower of 15th century models.