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The Ointment of the Magdalene (Le parfum de Madeleine)

James Tissot

European Art

Mary Magdalene kneels before Christ and anoints his feet, wiping away the excess oil with her hair, a gesture of deference and devotion. The disciples—especially Judas Iscariot, Tissot notes, in a commentary based on John’s account—are indignant at the gesture’s expense, asking could not this costly ointment be sold and its profits given to the poor? However, Jesus defends Mary’s prescience: “She did it,” he tells them, “for my burial.”
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 8 3/4 x 10 15/16 in. (22.2 x 27.8 cm) Sheet: 8 3/4 x 10 15/16 in. (22.2 x 27.8 cm) Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.214
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
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