Bust of Mary Magdalene
Circle of Donatello
15th - 16th century, Terracotta
This small half-bust depicts a mature woman dressed in a light tunic fastened at the waist by a belt, which also marks the lower end of the likeness (that may have once been placed on a pedestal). Only part of the arms are included in the composition, from the shoulders to the elbow. There are no visible traces of colour; indeed, certain particularly minute details of the face may exclude the possibility that the sculpture was painted. The thick, elegant drapery of the robe appears to be a continuation of the equally sharply rendered hair, which falls down the neck and over the shoulders, framing the richly expressive face. The mouth is open, the gaze is turned upwards, and the pupils are indicated by two deep grooves. The forehead is furrowed, as if in intimate suffering. The unknown artist is an expert sculptor, who shows remarkable refinement in the carving of the hair and the facial features which are imbued with emotion. The physiognomy of the half-length portrait is 15th-century, and even at a first, cursory glance, shows references to the school or circle of Donatello.