• The Penitent Magdalen
  • The Penitent Magdalen
  • The Penitent Magdalen
  • The Penitent Magdalen
  • The Penitent Magdalen - 1
  • The Penitent Magdalen - 2
  • The Penitent Magdalen - 3
  • The Penitent Magdalen - 4

The Penitent Magdalen

2nd half of the 17th c.
Object type
51,7 x 40,5 cm
Acquisition date
The Palace on the Isle - Hallway, 1st floor
Marks and inscriptions
signed G. Schalcken, bottom right red number 1613 of the Stanisław August collection, bottom left
Place of Origin
Netherlands (Europe)
The Royal Łazienki
Museum number
ŁKr 911
More parametrów obiektu

In the first period of his activity, Schalcken painted small, meticulously finished cabinet paintings under the influence of Gerard Dou, using a technique typical of the Leiden school; after 1670 he gradually began moving away from the fijnschilders (‘fine’ painters) manner in the direction of the more modern, carefree style of representatives of the Delft school: Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. He won international fame through his night pieces—with figures placed in the foreground, illuminated by the light of a candle or oil lamp, inspired by similar compositions by Dou. …

The subject of the penitent Magdalen gave the artist an excellent opportunity to create candlelit scenes and to make use of his beloved luminist effects. …

In Beherman’s opinion, the Łazienki Magdalen was made in c. 1670–75, evidence of which is the painterly technique characteristic of Schalcken’s earlier phase—relatively smoothly applied paint and the minute rendering of details. …

The face and shoulders of the Saint—shown deep in contemplation—emerge from the dusk lit by lamplight. It is not the only source of light in the painting; through the opening of the grotto the moon is visible, whose brilliance taints yellow the clouds in the night sky. Using two sources of light in one composition was considered particularly difficult and demanding real craftsmanship and was therefore highly valued (cf. T. Beherman, Godfried Schalcken, Paris 1988, p. 101). … [D. Juszczak, H. Małachowicz, The Stanisław August Collection of Paintings at the Royal Łazienki. Catalogue, Royal Łazienki Museum, Warsaw 2016, no. 94, p. 348.]

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