Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Jan van Scorel and Maria Magdalene

'Maria Magdalene' (c. 1530) by Jan van Scorel; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Today there was not a whole lot to choose from that was to my liking. But then I stumbled upon Dutch painter Jan van Scorel, born on August 1, 1495 (see his Dutch Wikipedia page for the date). I know this painter by name but never knew exactly what kind of paintings he had made. Nor did I know that he was responsible for introducing Italian High Renaissance art to The Netherlands. He was one of the first Dutch painters to visit Italy and got acquainted with the work of Michelangelo and Raphael. He painted mostly portraits or works with a religious theme. Today's painting 'Maria Magdalene' is actually not oil on canvas but was painted on a panel, like most paintings in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the late 16th century artists started to work more on canvas. Because panels were made of wood, and wood tends to warp over time as a result of changes in temperature and humidity, a top plank had been added to the panel after Van Scorel's time (just above the head of Maria Magdalene). The addition of the extra plank and thus extra blue sky reduced the tension and power of the composition and made the image of Maria Magdalene less strong. Click here for the original (smaller) painting. The size of the original was also more in line with Van Scorel's other paintings which were broader in size. This painting belongs to the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, but Wikipedia names the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem as current location. Since the Rijksmuseum is still being renovated and won't open until next year, the painting had been on loan to the Frans Hals Museum. I couldn't find on the internet whether it is still on display in Haarlem.

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