07 February 2009

Magdalene Reading

The website, Bible Paintings, has the painting of The Magdalene Reading below by Ambrosius Benson (1495-1550). The site makes no mention, however, of the wedding band noticeable on the ring finger of her left hand.

The Magdalen Reading (c. 1525). Ambrosius Benson. National Gallery, London. Image courtesy of Bible Paintings.

Margaret Starbird further notes that:
Interesting in these paintings by Benson is also the fact that Mary is wearing the gauzy headdress worn by women of the period (especially in Italy, Benson's birthplace). The veil-like headpiece is called a "guarnello" and was worn by women who were either pregnant or newmothers. The "Mona Lisa" ("La Gioconda") has recently been shown to be wearing this same garment--and her portrait is known to have been painted to celebrate the birth of her second son. The Ambrogio Altarpiece painted by Botticelli in 1490 shows M Magdalene wearing a gauzy veil as well, as do numerous other painting of the period.
SOURCE: "Re: Magdalene Reading (with wedding ring)," The Magdalene Line (25 Jan 2009).

Benson also produced two other Magdalene works, though neither is as intriguing as the one above. Both, however, show her wearing the guarnello. In the second one she is also reading a book and is wearing a ring on the pinkie finger of her left hand. It almost appears to be connected to the fabric that surrounds her book.

Mary Magdalene. Ambrosius Benson. Groeninge Museum, Bruges. Courtesy of Web Gallery of Art.

Mary Magdalene (c. 1530). Ambrosius Benson. Galleria Franchetti, Ca' d'Oro, Venice. Courtesy of Web Gallery of Art.

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