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The Magdalene is shown half-length against a dark background gazing directly out at the viewer as she lifts the lid of an alabaster ointment jar. Luini’s small panel painting of the Magdalene is an archetypal example of a devotional image, which is defined as a nonnarrative religious painting designed to facilitate prayerful meditation. Typical of devotional images, Luini’s painting of the Magdalene is confrontational; the monumental figure of the saint is depicted close to the picture plane against a dark indiscriminate background to heighten the intimacy of the encounter between the image and its beholder.
Duffy-Zeballos L. Bernardino Luini’s The Magdalene. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2005;7(3):212. doi:10.1001/archfaci.7.3.212