About the work

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Also known as Magdalen with Two Flames, The Penitent Magdalen, is one of several paintings of Mary Magdalen by Georges de La Tour. De La Tour depicted Mary in front of mirrors, lit by candlelight, and surrounded by worldly and spiritual objects. In this version, Mary casts her jewelry aside, symbolizing her rejection of earthly possessions. A skull rests in her lap as a memento mori, indicative of mortality. Mary does not appear in the mirror, representing her commitment to piety over the flesh.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Object Description


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