Mary Magdalene by Jan Van Scorel

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Title - Mary Magdalene - Year - c. 1530 - Artist  Jan van Scorel - Technique - Oil on oak panel - Dimensions - 67 x 76,5 cm. - Location - Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

A young woman is seated in a mountainous landscape. She is richly attired, with a dark-green dress set with pearls. This is Mary Magdalene, a rich woman but a sinner, who changed her ways after hearing Jesus Christ who is the central figure of the Christian religion. The name Christ comes from the Greek 'christos', meaning the anointed one. He was also called 'the son of God'. Christ's life and teachings are described in the New Testament. He was born some 2,000 years ago in Judea. His birth was accompanied by miracles. For instance, his mother was a virgin, called Mary, and his birthplace was a stable. Shepherds were told of his birth by angels and came to worship him as the new king. Jesus grew up as a practicing Jew. But at the age of about 30 he began to proclaim teachings that diverged from Jewish law. A group of disciples gathered around him and his activities brought him into conflict with the authorities. He was eventually condemned to death by crucifixion. According to the Bible, however, he rose from the dead and after his resurrection he was seen by a number of his disciples. Forty days later he departed from the world. But his followers continued to proclaim his teachings. This was the start of Christianity. preach. The tree beside her - with branches blossoming on a hollow, rotten trunk - symbolises prosperity after a blighted start. Jan van Scorel painted this portrait around 1530, after a long study trip to Italy. He brought a new manner of painting back to Holland. This can clearly be seen in the landscape and the way in which he portrays Mary Magdalene. Scorel turned the saint into a modern woman, graceful and serious.

Jan van Scorel - 1495-1562   Jan Van Scorel

(born August 1495, Schoorel, Habsburg Netherlands — died Dec. 6, 1562, Utrecht) Dutch humanist, architect, engineer, and painter. He studied briefly with Jan Gossart, who encouraged him to travel. Five years of work and study in Europe eventually took him to Rome. Returning to Holland in 1524, he introduced such Italian Renaissance elements as nudes, Classical draperies and architecture, and spacious imaginary landscapes. His greatest works are his portraits, which show his gift for characterization. He successfully combined the idealism of Renaissance Italy with the naturalism of northern European art in his paintings, and he bequeathed the style to successive generations of Dutch artists.

Jan van Scorel (1495, Schoorl - December 6, 1562, Utrecht) was an influential Dutch painter credited with the introduction of High Italian Renaissance art to the Netherlands. It is not known whether he began his studies under Jan Gossaert in Utrecht or with Jacob Cornelisz in Amsterdam, but it certain that it was the master painters he would meet later in his life who would have the greatest effect on his technique. Van Scorel began traveling through Europe in his early twenties, first heading to Nuremberg and then to Austria. It was there, in 1520, that he completed his first representative work, "Sippenaltar". Giorgione served as a considerable influence on van Scorel during a tenure in Venice. Upon leaving Venice, van Scorel passed through Rome and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His experiences in Jerusalem are depicted in many of his later works.
In 1521, van Scorel returned to Rome where he met Pope Adrian VI, who appointed him painter to the Vatican. He himself sat for a portrait. Van Scorel enjoyed the influence of Michaelangelo and Raphael, and succeeded Raphael as Keeper of the Belvedere.
Upon his return to the Netherlands in 1524, he began a successful career as a painter and a teacher. Van Scorel was a very educated man and skilled as an engineer and an architect, as well as an artist. He was also multi-lingual, no doubt as a result of his travels.
Considered to be the leading Netherlandish Romanist, van Scorel died in Utrecht in 1562, leaving behind a wealth of portraits and altarpieces. Though many of his works fell victim to the Iconoclasm in 1566, some still remain and can be seen primarily at museums in the Netherlands.

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Mary Magdalene by Jan Van Scorel