23 January 2009

Mary Magdalene by Jan van Scorel

Jan van Scorel. Mary Magdalene (1528). Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Image courtesy of Art and the Bible.

I first noticed this picture in Margaret Starbird's book, Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile (Plate 5) where she comments on the pearl "X"s on her sleeve (symbolic of the Grail heresy and the hidden church; see Starbird's earlier book, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, 95) and the gold brocade in her lap (symbolic of the Messiah's royal bride).

Recently others have pointed out some additional interesting features in this painting. Ordained Gnostic Priest Jordan Stratford and his sister Avielah Barclay, an Orthodox Jewish scribe, noticed that there were Hebrew letters embroidered on the collar of her dress (See detail below). As far as I know, no one has been able to decipher them yet.

Detail of Mary Magdalene by Jan van Scorel. Image courtesy of Ecclesia Gnostica in Nova Albion.

Corjan de Raaf and Andrew Gough point out that the rock in the upper left hand corner resembles the Rock of the Magdalene near Rennes-le-Château as well as some other interesting features:

The dramatic rock on her left is only one of many remarkable features. There’s an old bearded man walking, reminding us of the old bearded man / woman walking across the west wall fresco over the confessional in the church of Rennes-le-Château. A man, woman and child are sitting calmly at the foot of the Rock. . . .
The Art and the Bible website adds the following description:

Italian influences are visible in the landscape and in the figure of Mary Magdalene, who resembles a Venetian courtesan. The tree springing from the decayed trunk symbolizes a new life after a bad start: Mary Magdalene has converted to become a follower of Jesus. In the background, in front of the overhanging rock, Mary is being borne up to Heaven. The top plank of this panel, with the sky and tree branches, was added in the second half of the 16th century. That part was not painted by Van Scorel.

SOURCES: Corjan de Raaf and Andrew Gough, "The Rock of the Magdalene," andrew gough's arcadia (Retrieved 23 January 2009).

"Jan van Scorel: Mary Magdalene," Art and the Bible (Retrieved 23 January 2009).

Jordan Stratford and Avielah Barclay, "Hebrew Code in 16th C. Painting of Mary Magdalene," Ecclesia Gnostica in Nova Albion (13 June 2006).

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