workshop of Pietro Lorenzetti (Italian, Sienese, active 1280–1348),
The Last Communion of St. Mary Magdalene
tempera on panel, 27 x 18 ½ in.; 68.6 x 47 cm
Gift of Robert Lehman, 1945.103
The convincing depiction of spatial depth was a central concern and major innovation of Renaissance art. Lorenzetti, one of the foremost early-fourteenth-century Sienese painters, here suggests depth by positioning the central figure diagonally at the mouth of a cave, partially inside and partially in front of the opening.
This panel may have served as an altarpiece in a small church, or as an image for private devotion. It depicts Mary Magdalene, the biblical sinner who washed Christ’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, living as a hermit in the desert, sustained by nourishment brought by angels.