Federico Zuccari, Federigo Zuccaro (c. 1540/1541 – July 20, 1609
The Conversion of the Magdalen
Oil on pear wood, 29.8 x 58.4 cm
National Gallery, London, UK
The title is traditional and the subject rarely depicted (it is not described in the Bible). The painting may, in fact, simply represent Christ preaching in the Temple, although one woman among the female portion of the congregation is given special prominence.
Figures in the foreground at the right derive from a design of the same subject by Zuccaro which was for a fresco formerly in the Grimani Chapel in S. Francesco della Vigna, Venice. Vasari describes the fresco which is datable to the early 1560s. The pendant to the Magdalen fresco survives, and makes possible the identification of the design of the lost work in engravings and drawings. Some of the figures in The Conversion of the Magdalen may be portraits, and the fashions of their clothes date from the 1580s or 1590s. In the past an attribution to Pedro Campaña has been proposed, but this does not seem tenable. Another version of the composition (Rome, Borghese Gallery) also survives.
Collection of Philip John Miles which had been formed by Richard Hart Davis, Leigh Court, by 1822; Buchanan (1824) said the work came from the Vitturi collection, Venice, and had been sold with it to Thomas Moore Slade who sent it to England, about 17746; bought, 1888.