Half-lenght portraits of Mary Magdalen in Wilderness were amongst Titian’s most successful compositions. Documented commissions reveal, in particular, how the painter used images of the saint as bargaining chips when negotiating annuities for himself or his sons. When Titian offered one of his Magdalens to Philip II, however, there was a much darker story underneath: the artist was trying to make amend and regain the king’s favour after having insulted him. The paper will investigate the circumstances surrounding the commission and Titian’s behaviour, as well as reconstructing the original composition of Philip’s Magdalen, which was tragically destroyed by a fire in London in 1873.
Carlo Corsato is a specialist in early-modern art and architecture in Italy and Flanders. He has lectured and given invited talks at a number of institutions, including Morley College, London, and the universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, and Buckingham. He has published extensively on Venetian painting and is currently preparing the publication of book on Titian and the iconography of Mary Magdalen.