Penitent Magdalen, Pedro de Mena.
This sculpture was made for the casa profesa of the Jesuits in Madrid during a voyage of Pedro de Mena to Madrid. It was finished in his studio of Malaga in 1664.
- Size, dimensions: 171 cm x 52 cm x 61 cm
- Material used: Polychromed wood, carving.
- Actually, this sculpture of Pedro de Mena is on the National Museum of Sculpture, Valladolid.
The Penitent Magdalen is distinguished for the simplicity of its forms. She looks like a young and Hebrew woman. This sculpture is the living image of penance and repentance. It is made up of polychromed wood. The colors are inside the ocher and brown variety, very appropriated with the theme and spirit that Pedro tried to transmit with this sculpture. This is one of the finest examples of the realistic language of Spanish Baroque sculpture, steeped in emotion and religiosity.
Mary Magdalen contemplates a crucifix she holds in her left hand. Her right hand is on her bosom, indicating her love and devotion to Christ. She feels empathy for Christ's suffering. The movement begun by her left foot represent a dynamic pose. She has a sad look with red eyes, caused by tears and her mouth is slightly open and dry. For the long and flowing hair, Pedro de Mena used several strands of twisted wicker, painted with a chestnut colour. She is wearing a simple long dress, down to his feet and tied around her waist with a rope. X-radiography has revealed that the main body of the figure was created from a column of wood to which Mena attached the separately carved body parts using animal flue and long nails.
The theme of the Penitent Magdalen is a representation of the repentance of the Cristian believers. This sculpture it isn’t very common at the time and in the Andalusian school neither. There aren’t many sculptures of this style during the Baroque period in Spain.
It is a sculpture with a lot of realism that transmits a spiritual value that shows the influence of some Castilians sculptors, like Gregorio Fernández.
In this sculpture we can recognize different features of the Baroque style, like: movement, realism in representations, interest in surprising the audience, capturing fleeting moments, use of curved lines and cloths folds…
The subject belong to be religious, representing drama and realism, using: wounds, blood, expression of suffering (like the Penitent Magdalen) and pain.
Pedro de Mena
Pedro de Mena was a Spanish sculptor who is considered the most famous representative of Granada during the Baroque period in Spain. He dedicated his life's work to producing sculptures about religious imagery, just as his father had done before him. He shared his workshop with a famous Spanish sculptor and artist, Alonso Cano. As a result, the pair worked together and collaborated in many projects during their lives.
Bust of Pedro de Mena http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/Malaga-Pedro_de_Mena-20110921.jpg/250px-Malaga-Pedro_de_Mena-20110921.jpg
Pedro de Mena has been one of the best sculptors of all time, he was able to create naturalistic iconographic on the Granada school, and he was one of the most influential sacred sculptors in the Spanish religious art during the 17th century until today.
He kept alive the Granada school and he created the focus of sculptors from Malaga. He had influence one hundred and fifty years after his death.
Atlas ilustrado de la Historia del Arte, Susaeta.
Historia del Arte, Vicens Vives. J. R. Triadó Tur, M. Pendás García, X. Triadó Subirana.