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Mary Magdalene

Richard Saltonstall Greenough

American Art

On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor

Richard Greenough, the younger brother and pupil of the Neoclassical sculptor Horatio Greenough, belongs to the second generation of American expatriate artists who lived and worked in Italy. Like Thomas Ball, Emma Stebbins, and Margaret Foley, whose biblical figures are displayed nearby, Greenough drew on the Old and New Testaments in seeking subjects for his work in marble. Mary Magdalene was a follower of Christ who witnessed the Crucifixion. Greenough broke with the visual restraint of Neoclassicism to introduce an emotional element, expressed not only in facial expression and gesture, but also in the dynamic surface rhythms and bold play of light and shadow in the folds of drapery.

DATES 1869
DIMENSIONS 70 3/8 x 24 1/2 x 19 1/2 in., 900 lb. (178.8 x 62.2 x 49.5 cm, 408.24kg)
SIGNATURE Incised on edge of base at proper left side, rear: "R. S. GREENOUGH, / SCt. PARIS, 1869."
INSCRIPTIONS Incised along front edge of base: "MARY MAGDALENE"
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Cooper Union Museum of Art
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Life-sized sculpture of woman in contrapposto pose; head tilted back in expression of grief (eyes closed and lips parted), tendrils of long hair fall over shoulders; holds proper right arm over head; proper left arm rests at side with crown of thorns in hand; figure in classical dress with robe wrapped around waist and draped over right arm down back; stands on flat ovoid base with straight front edge. Condition: Good.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
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