Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino
Cento, Ferrara, 1591-Bologna, 1666
Mary Magdalene, ca. 1625
Transcending he contemplation of death and repentance of sins, the Magdalene looks heavenward in a rapture that is echoed by a shaft of light. This painting is an excellent example of Guercino’s shift from the exquisite, intuitive naturalism of early works, like the Landscape (below), to a more deliberate, constructed, and self-consciously dramatic style after his experience of Caravaggism during a sejourn in Rome (1621-23). Because this figure derives from Guercino’s own painting of around 1619, a Raising of Lazarus, now in the Louvre, the development is especially clear.