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Title The Conversion of the Magdalen, or Martha Criticising Mary for her Vanity
Alternative Title Martha Reproving Mary
Collection Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
Artist Attributed to Vouet, Simon (French painter and draftsman, 1590-1649)
Previously attributed to Gentileschi, Artemisia (Italian painter, 1593-1651/1653)
previously attributed to Reni, Guido (Italian painter and draftsman, 1575-1642)
Date Earliest possibly about 1610
Date Latest possibly about 1700
Description Mary Magdalen, who was a female disciple of Christ and a penitent saint who plays an important role in Catholic worship, sits at a table laden with luxury items. Convinced by the arguments of her sister, Martha, that she should follow Christ, Mary is on the point of abandoning the vanities of the world and we see the moment at which she begins removing the jewellery from her hair. This painting seems to be a work of the French painter Simon Vouet, although the founder, William Hunter, purchased the painting as A Lady at her Toilet by Guido Reni. To eighteenth-century connoisseurs, Guido Reni's small oils on copper were as precious as jewels. Vouet's early career was spent in Rome (1614-27), where he was one of the most important painters of realist genre scenes inspired by Caravaggio. This painting is thought to be a replica, possibly autograph, of the much larger Vouet canvas in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Inv. 255), but with a significantly different treatment of the Magdalen's rich clothing.
Current Accession Number GLAHA45020
Subject religion; figure
Measurements 19.0 x 26.0 cm
Material oil on copper
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter 1783.
Provenance Sir Robert Strange sale, Christie's, London, 8 Feb. 1771, lot 90 (as A Lady at her Toilet by Guido Reni), purchased by Dr William Hunter for 35 guineas.
Principal Exhibitions The Hunterian Collection: An Eighteenth-Century Gentleman's Cabinet, Iveagh Bequest Kenwood, London County Council, 1952, no. 8; “My Highest Pleasures”: William Hunter's Art Collection, Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 2007, no. 33.
Publications Strange, R. Catalogue of a Collection of Pictures..., Christie's, London, 7 Feb. 1771, no. 90; Laskey, J., A General Account of the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, 1813, no. 43; Young, A.M., The Hunterian Collection: An Eighteenth-Century Gentleman's Cabinet, London, 1952, p. 13; Dargent, G., ‘La Madeleine dans l'Oeuvre de Simon Vouet', Bulletin de la Societe de l'Histoire de l' Art Francais, 1959, pp. 31-34; Thuillier, J. & Dargent, G., Simon Vouet en Italy: Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte, IV, 1965 p. 57; Cummings, F., ‘Detroit's Conversion of the Magdalen', The Burlington Magazine, October, 1974, p. 593, note 28; Nicolson, B., ‘A Provisional List of Carravaggesque Pictures in Public and Private Collections in Great-Britain and Northern Ireland', Burlington Magazine, CXVI, 1974, p 560; Nicolson, B., Caravaggio and his Copyists, New York, 1976, p. 109; Nicolson, B., The International Caravaggesque Mouvement, Oxford, 1979, p. 109; Black, Peter, ed., "My Highest Pleasures": William Hunter's Art Collection, London, 2007, pp. 131-2, 180, ill. p. 132.
Rights Owner Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
Author Christina Gaughan



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