The Conversion of Mary Magdalene
c. 1661-62
Guido Cagnacci (Italian, 1601-1663)
On View

In the seventeenth century, Guido Cagnacci was celebrated for his deeply sensual paintings of female saints and heroines. The Conversion of Mary Magdalene , regarded as Cagnacci’s masterpiece, presents a unique treatment of this well-known subject. Full of earthy drama, it depicts Mary Magdalene rejecting her life of sin and excess in favor of following Christ. Her sister, Martha, reinforces her fateful decision. Behind them an angel (Virtue) chases out a devil (Vice). The handmaids at the door reiterate these contrasts: the crying woman represents Contrition; the other, gesturing in annoyance, represents Vanity. A beautiful confusion of cast off clothes and jewels suggests her desertion of this vice. Cagnacci’s brilliant tableau combines lofty allegory with sensuous representation to create an inventive and effective visual metaphor. The artist’s pride and satisfaction with the results are evident, as he signed his name in Roman capital letters at the bottom right corner, followed by the word “inventor.”

Details

  • Artist Name: Guido Cagnacci (Italian, 1601-1663)
  • Title: The Conversion of Mary Magdalene
  • Date: c. 1661-62
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 90-1/4 x 104-1/2 in. (229.2 x 265.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1982.5.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Painted for the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, Vienna, and proposed as gift to;
Dukes of Mantua by 1665, Duke Carlo II, villa Marmirolo and villa Favorita;
Duke Ferdinand Carlo Gonzaga, 10th and last Duke of Mantua in 1665, transported to Venice 1707; upon his death, transported 5 July 1708 to Padua, by inheritance to;
Duchess of Hanover, The Princesse de Condé and the Princesse de Salm (sale, Venice, 1711, purchased by);
Christian Cole, and transported to England in April, 1711 for;
Earl of Dartmouth, transferred or sold to;
Henry Bentinck (1st Duke of Portland by 1716), Bulstrode House by 1722, when (sold 19 February 1722, lot 78 to);
[Mr. Lamb" (possibly Aaron Lambe) to ?];
Marquise d'Ancezune, still in 1749.
Dukes of Portland, Bulstrode House, Welbeck Abbey and London, by 1809, by descent to;
Lady Anne Cavendish Bentinck, Welbeck Abbey (sale, London, Christie’s, 11 December 1981, lot 52, to);
[P.D. Colnaghi & Co., London, sold 1981 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.
Benati, D.; and M. B. Castellotti, Guido Cagnacci, pp. 39, 116-168
Giannini, Federico, Passione e sensualità pittura di Guido Cagnacci, pp. 82-84, 115
Apollo,
Phillippy, Patricia, Painting Women: Cosmetics, Canvases & Early Modern Culture, fig. 23 pp. 169-170
Hill, T. J., Inventory of Pictures at Bulstrode House, no. 22
Eidelbug, M.; and E. Rowlands, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, pp. cover, 217
Xavier Salomon, Fabrizio Moretti: The Magazine, pp. 62-63, 66-67 ; pp. [64-65] (ill.)
Pepper, S., "Shorter Notices: A New Work by Guido Cagnacci and its Mantuan Provenance",
Captured Emotion: Baroque Painting in Bologna, 1575-1728, fig. 2 p. 113
Philips, W., Inventory of Harcourt House,
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 44
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 1695 p. 436
Pasini, P., Guido Cagnacci: Painter (1601-1663), pp. 165, 171-172, 285-287
Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, p. #43
List of Pictures sent from Harcourt to Welbeck, no. 1
Michel Laclotte, Alain Merot, Joel Cornette, l'Historie Artistique au 17 eme siecle, ill. page 365 p. 365
Papi, G., Antichità viva, pp. 19-25
Ruth Weisberg, Ruth Weisberg Reflections Through Time, Figure p. 26
Catalogue of Pictures Belonging to his Grace the Duke of Portland, at Welbeck Abbey and in London, no. 494 p. 138
Keith Christiansen, Italian Paintings, Ill. p. 130 p. 130
Vertova, L., The Burlington Magazine, pp. 783-784
Xavier F. Salomon, The Art of Guido Cagnacci, Fig. 49 pp. 7-8, 94-100 ; pp. [2-3],[6], 95, 101, 102, 116, and cover pages and end pages (ill.)
Goulding, R., Catalogue of the Pictures Belonging to his Grace the Duke of Portland, K.G., no. 494 p. 196
Zava Bocazzi, Franca, Pittura veneziana dal Quattrocento al Settecento: studi di storia dell'arte in onore di Egidio Martini, pp. 203-211
Penny, N., The Burlington Magazine, p. 380
Lisa Hilton, Letizia Lodi, The Death of Cleopatra, fig. 3 or plate 3 p. [9], 15 ; [plate] III (ill.)
Lettere e Altri Documeni Intorno alla Storia della Pintura: Raccolte di Quadri a Mantova nel sei-settecento, pp. 48, 50, 57, 72
Mazza, Angelo; and Pier Giorgio Pasini, Seicento inquieto: Arte e cultura a Rimini, pp. 166, 256-257
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