Repentant Magdelene by Cagnacci Comes to London

Guido Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene will be on view at the National Gallery, London, from 15 February through 21 May 2017. An exceptional loan from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (California), this exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to discover this artist’s astonishing naturalism and sensuality at first hand.

Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) was one of the most eccentric painters of seventeenth-century Italy, infamous for the unconventionality of both his art and his lifestyle. Trained in Bologna and Rome, he had an extraordinary career, between Romagna, Venice, and Vienna. His works, mostly religious in subject, are known for their unabashed, often unsettling eroticism, and his biography is no less intriguing. Though his pictorial style was influenced by some of the most important Italian painters of the time — the Carracci, Guercino, and Guido Reni — Cagnacci developed an individual and immediately recognizable artistic language.

The Repentant Magdalene is undoubtedly one of Cagnacci’s masterpieces. Full of drama and sensuality, it depicts Mary Magdalene rejecting her life of sin and excess in favor of following Christ. Cagnacci’s treatment of the subject is unique; he lavishes unprecedented attention on her glittering costume, shoes and jewelry, as well as on her naked body. This painting is like no other representation of the Magdalene.

Further reading: Xavier F. Salomon, The Art of Guido Cagnacci, Scala Arts Publishers Inc., 2016.

Guido Cagnacci, The Repentant Magdalene, ca. 1660−63, oil on canvas, Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena, California.

Posted by Martina Bollini

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