Mary Magdalene

Halberstadt, c. 1350
Sandstone, painted

Depicted in elegantly sweeping lines, Mary Magdalene stands with a chrismatory for consecrated oil and a censer for burning incense. Her robes fall in soft folds; signs of a smile render her delicate face enchanting. Since it was last restored, the figure has been presented with its original decorations: her blue mantle is adorned with a pattern of gold roses, the robes beneath are embellished with medallions and the collar with edging. Along with her head covering, her clothing conveys a noble, morally unblemished appearance. In other words, Mary Magdalene is shown here not as the sinner, but as Jesus’ companion, the first to arrive at his grave with her chrismatory and censer, and to learn of the Resurrection. It is not certain what the sculpture was used for; it was probably one of the figures around a Holy Sepulchre for which there are records but which has not survived.