Mary Magdalene Visited by an Angel

Giovan Gioseffo Dal Sole

Bologna, 1654 – 1719

Oil on canvas, 321 x 198cm

Inv. 352

The Galleria Estense, Modena

Despite being one of the artist’s best works, little is known of this painting’s early existence. It adorned the main altar in the Chiesa delle Monache di S. Maria Maddalena in Modena before entering the ducal collections in 1783. 

Its execution might be dated to the years bridging the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during (or immediately after) the time Dal Sole spent in Verona between 1695 and 1700 as the guest of Count Ercole Giusti Del Giardino. Here the Bolognese artist met his peer, Louis Dorigny, who was already a student of Charles Le Brun in Paris. He absorbed the basic components for what would become his characteristic personal style, with promising flashes of rococo-like elegance alongside traits typical of his Emilian context at the turn of the century. The Magdalene’s languid figure is a clear expression of this style, as well as the youthful angel in flight, his drapery blown by the wind against the impenetrable obscurity of the background.