Image code: 8178

Mary Magdalene in penance

Mary Magdalene in Penitence, detail, second version of the sculpture, Canova shows Magdalene as a beautiful young woman dressed as a hermit. The skull at her feet indicates the brevity of her earthly existence. Mary once held a bronze cross, now missing, symbolising the Crucifixion. In the grieving figure and the gesture of the helpless, drooping hands, we do not see a classical ideal of beauty, but an emotional image reflecting the observation of nature.