The Repentant Mary Magdalene (Madeleine répentante)
Apart from Jesus, Mary Magdalene is the only individual in Tissot’s series accorded more than one study, or portrait—an exception that announces her importance, not only to the narrative itself but also to the artist. As scholars have suggested, Tissot appears to have modeled the Magdalene’s features after his late mistress, Mrs. Kathleen Newton, who had died of tuberculosis in 1882. Like many in the nineteenth century, the painter was particularly interested in the occult, and he had attended séances in hopes of establishing contact with the spirit of his deceased beloved.
In the image depicting her before her conversion, Mary Magdalene appears dressed in a colorful striped garment and adorned with jewels, her gaze directed unabashedly toward the viewer. Tissot’s commentary provides a brief biography of her unhappy marriage to a harsh and unyielding Pharisee and her subsequent unfaithfulness.
In The Repentant Magdalene, she now wears the veil of a penitent. Her eyes are humbly lowered, avoiding the gaze of the viewer, and her long hair is pulled back in accordance with Jewish custom.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Image: 8 9/16 x 3 15/16 in. (21.7 x 10 cm)
Sheet: 8 9/16 x 3 15/16 in. (21.7 x 10 cm)
Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed bottom left: "J.J. Tissot"
Purchased by public subscription
1900, purchased from the artist by the Brooklyn Museum.
This item is not on view
James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey-Buillon, France). The Repentant Mary Magdalene (Madeleine répentante), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 8 9/16 x 3 15/16 in. (21.7 x 10 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.155 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.155_PS1.jpg)
overall, 00.159.155_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.