The Repentant Magdalene

James Tissot, The Repentant Magdalene, late 19th century. Watercolor on paper, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

James Tissot (1836–1902) was a 19th-century French artist active in Britain. Born to a devout Catholic mother, as an adult Tissot would commit his artistic pursuits to biblical themes. In 1897 Tissot published an illustrated, four-volume book entitled The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The book included 365 biblical illustrations that received critical acclaim in Paris, London, and New York—bringing Tissot wealth and notoriety. In this illustration from the book , scholars believe that Tissot used his late paramour, Mrs. Kathleen Newton as a model for Mary Magdalene. Tissot portrays Mary Magdalene after her conversion—presumably from a life of sin.   Notice her humble posture, clasped hands, and downcast eyes; she is wrapped in a dark veil in accordance with Jewish custom.

James Tissot, The Repentant Magdalene. Watercolor on paper, late 19th century. Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

Changing one's beliefs and self-identity from one religion to another.

Evaluating its subject carefully, rigorously, and with minimal preconceptions. "Critical" religious scholarship contrasts with popular and sectarian studies.

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