“The Temptation of Maria Magdalina,” Jacob Yordans – a description of the picture

“The Temptation of Maria Magdalina,” Jacob Yordans – a description of the picture
“The Temptation of Maria Magdalina,” Jacob Yordans - a description of the picture - 1

  • Posted by Jacob Yordans
  • Museum: Museum of Fine Arts, Lille
  • Year: 1618-1620

Description of the picture :

The temptation of Maria Magdalina – Jacob Yordans. 1618-1620. Oil on canvas. 125 x 97 cm.

   Yordan is one of the most prominent representatives of Flemish Baroque. Usually his paintings are distinguished by a complex multi-figure composition and the presence of a large number of decorative elements, juicy and rich, warm colors.

   This canvas does not quite correspond to our ideas about the style of the artist. By composition and multi-figuration, the complexity of the drawing, it is typically baroque, but in the color it resembles the paintings of Caravaggio more.

   In it, the characters are not just dressed in dark fabrics – they literally drown in darkness, although the artist uses his favorite warm range of flowers here. As a result, the canvas seems to be filled with oblique, reddish rays of the setting sun, giving deep velvet shadows.

   In the center of the canvas is the figure of Maria Magdalina in a reddish, free dress and a widow of a black scarf on her head. She presses the skull with both hands, and her face expresses suffering from the fact that she is not allowed to survive her grief alone. In the plot of the picture, a biblical plot is played out, according to which Mary from the city of Magdala was a harlot, whom Jesus Christ healed from the obsession with seven demons. After that, she believed and began to accompany Christ and his apostles everywhere. Without plunging into theological disputes, we can say that on the canvas Magdalene appears before us as a woman who is grieving for her enormous loss.

   In this picture, the master plays the motive for the temptation of Maria Magdalene in various ways to force her to renounce her faith. A richly dressed master on the right convinces her to return to worldly life, an old, vile procurator bribes with money and jewelry, and behind the back of a woman a militant opponent of Christianity threatens her with physical violence. But Magdalene does not respond to anything – she is firm in her faith and will not betray the Master.

   The picture impresses with a complex composition built in a circle and warm, velvety shades of red and golden colors on a saturated dark background. The canvas seems to be iridescent in different shades, and deep shadows give the image depth and relief.

   As in most of the paintings of Yordan, various fabrics are masterfully depicted on this virtuoso, their texture and folds, play of light and shadow, shades of tones are perfectly conveyed. This is a very spectacular and decorative image of the biblical plot, but in reality – a symbol of the deep faith and unwaveringness of a simple person.