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Maddalena in orazione


Date of Creation


Artistic Movement


1600 circa


Arte Barocca

Oil on canvas







Catalogue Raisonné



€ 2,200,000.00


The canvas in question pertains to the early expressive maturity of the painter Valentin de Boulogne (one of the leading figures of the so-called "French Caravaggism"), approximately between 1625 and 1628. This period marks the overcoming of a more direct adherence to the 'Manfrediana Methodus,' and formal exploration turns, in addition to Caravaggio's modules, to the strong innovative suggestions coming from the post-Carracci morphological and visual evolution, particularly influenced by Lanfranco.

Although the current philological research does not allow focusing on the collector's origin of this "Maddalena," it is noteworthy that its provenance from the Umbrian area suggests the possible presence of other paintings by Valentin in that context. This region includes the diocese that was part of the papal Barberini family's domain and their associates and 'familiari,' like the Marchigian chamberlain Angelo Giori or the della Corgnia family from Città della Pieve. Two paintings, formerly owned by the latter, "Christ and the Samaritan Woman" and "Noli me Tangere," are now in Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, and date back to 1622. Furthermore, the same model with post-adolescent somatics present in the current painting is recognizable, with earlier physiognomic traits, in the two previous canvases, as the Samaritan and Magdalene. Following these, around 1624, two other depictions emerge: in "Judith and Holofernes" (La Valletta, National Gallery of Malta) and "Conversion of Mary Magdalene" (location unknown, formerly Budapest), showcasing a closer somatic affinity with the female figure under discussion. This resemblance extends further to the girl in "Reunion in a Tavern" (Paris, Louvre), dated around 1624-25, and the Madonna in the "Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist" (Rome, Galleria Spada), between 1626 and '28.

Having indirectly determined the likely dating of the work, it is important to highlight the technical-stylistic connections it shares with others from a similar phase. As fixed points, we have the two most significant canvases from these years: the "Allegory of Italy" (formerly Barberini, now in Rome, Finnish Institute) and the altarpiece (originally in San Pietro, now in the Vatican Pinacoteca) with the "Martyrdom of Saints Processus and Martinian," both attributable to 1629. While it remains a hypothesis that this "Maddalena in Prayer" is indirectly linked to a Barberini commission in Umbria, its chromatic and stylistic development can be closely associated with paintings that similarly represent individual figures, sometimes hermits, traceable to 1628-30. The horizontal compositional cut also finds precedents in canvases featuring the Four Evangelists (Versailles, Chambre du Roi). The morphological relationship connects this "Magdalene" to vertically structured figures like "Saint Jerome" from the Jewett Art Center at the Wellesley Museum (note the drapery and still life solution) and "Saint John the Baptist" paired with "Saint Jerome" in the sacristy of Santa Maria in Via in Camerino. Furthermore, the resemblance with the new series of Evangelists (now in a private Swiss collection), around 1630, is notable; these are similarly horizontal and set in interiors. In this sense, one can observe some conceptual correspondence with the "Saint Matthew" and "Saint John" from this latter series.


Collezione privata



Additional information

Expertise Prof. Maurizio Marini Expertise del Prof. Nicholas Turner

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