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paintings, art history, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, Magdalen, Christ, inspiration in art


Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Art and Design | Christianity | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Painting


This paper examines the techniques Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo utilizes to engage the viewer in his four known variants on the subject of Mary Magdalene. This is achieved through developing the context of an extremely devout Renaissance audience, not only knowledgeable on the subject but also trained to engage with paintings and their subject matter. By examining Savoldo's paintings using John Shearman's concept of the transitive mode, it is possible to understand the way that Savoldo and his predecessors utilize a single figure composition yet through the manipulation of eye contact, body position, and light qualities they are able to develop a narrative context and engage viewers by implicating them in the narrative. Savoldo not only utilized but also improved upon this tradition. Mary Pardo provides much of the inspiration for this work in her article "The Subject of Savoldo's Magdalene." Yet, through a formal analysis of Savoldo's body of work this paper questions some of Pardo's notions on the role of the viewer and argues that when correctly read Savoldo's Magdalen variants place the viewer in the role of the resurrected Christ. This quality creates engagement in an unprecedented way.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License