Two loose sketches, one two thirds of the page, the other in the bottom right corner. In both, a half-figure of Mary Magdalene lifts the lid of a jar of oil.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519), Studies for Saint Mary Magdalene, circa 1480-82, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

Studies for Saint Mary Magdalene

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was a tireless draughtsman for whom drawing was an essential means of developing compositional ideas. In these two rapid pen and ink sketches he explored the ambitiously twisted half-length figure of Mary Magdalene, the patron saint of penitents. Starting with the larger version he rapidly added the more summary drawing below. There the saint gazes directly at the viewer whilst lifting the lid of a jar of oil. The jar refers to the biblical episode of Mary Magdalene anointing Christ’s feet. Although no related paintings by Leonardo have survived, the composition was later used by his pupils who adapted it in their own works.  

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Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

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