Description: LODOVICO CARDI, CALLED IL CIGOLI CASTELLO DI CIGOLI, NR SAN MINIATO 1559 - 1613 ROME THE PENITENT MAGDALENE signed and dated on the rock lower right: LC [in ligature] / 1598 . oil on canvas 59 by 45 1/4 in.; 149.9 by 114.9 cm.
Exhibited: Northridge, California, Fine Arts Gallery of California State University, Baroque Masters from The J. Paul Getty Museum, 26 February - 20 March 1973, no. 9 (where listed as dated 1595).
Literature: G.B. Cardi, Vita di Lodovico Cardi Cigoli (1628), G. Battelli and K. Busse, eds., San Miniato 1913, pp. 22-23;
Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. cat., Northridge 1973, p. 5;
B. Fredericksen, 'Recent Gifts of Paintings', in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. III, 1976, pp. 105-108, reproduced p. 106, fig. 3;
Possibly A. Matteoli, Lodovico Cardi-Cigoli, pittore e architetto, Pisa 1980, p. 206, cat. no. 78, where listed as lost;
M. Chappell, Appunti; 'Missing Pictures by Lodovico Cigoli. Some Problematic Works and Some Proposals in Preparation for a Catalogue", in Paragone, XXXIII, 373, March 1981, p. 87;
F. Faranda, Ludovico Cardi detto il Cigoli, Rome 1986, p. 136, no. 28, reproduced;
M. Chiarini, et al., Lodovico Cigoli 1559 - 1613: Tra Manierismo e Barocco, Dipinti, Florence 1992, exh. cat., pp. 97, 102, under nos. 15 and 19;
D. Jaffé, Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles 1997, p. 21, reproduced, (as Workshop of Cigoli);
F. Baldassari, La Pittura del Seicento a Firenze, Indice degli artisti e delle loro opere, Turin 2009, p. 182;
S. Bellesi, Pittori fiorentini del '600 e '700, Biografie e Opere, Florence 2009, vol. I, p. 99;
G. Cantelli, Repertorio della pittura fiorentina del seicento, Addendum, Pontedera 2009, p. 40.
Provenance: Painted for Carlo Guidocci, Florence, along with a pendant, a Saint Francis of Assisi in Prayer (according to the artist's biographer and nephew [see Literature and note below]);
Possibly Senatore Carlo di Raffaele Torrigiani, Florence;
Alfred S. Karlsen, Beverly Hills, California, by 1966;
Dr. William P. Garred, Onawa, Iowa;
By whom donated to The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.
Notes: Ludovico Cardi was the leading artist in Florence at the turn of the seventeenth century and was pivotal in the transition from the late Mannerism of his master Alessandro Allori to the Baroque style that was soon to pervade Florentine painting. Full-length and set against a dark background from which her warm, pale flesh tones stand out so effectively, the devotion of the present Penitent Magdalene, shown here after her conversion, perfectly captures the piety of the Counter-Reformation aesthetic, both in its choice of subject matter and in its naturalistic and direct portrayal. The present painting was conceived with an untraced pendant of Saint Francis of Assisi and is the prototype of a composition which the artist was to repeat on at least one other occasion, as he often did with his most successful designs, including that of Saint Francis.(1) A preparatory drawing in the Uffizi (fig. 1) is indisputably related to the figure, though its subject is not specified.
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The present painting was executed by Cigoli in 1598 and, according to his biographer and nephew Giovan Battista Cardi (see Literature) was painted specifically for his friend Carlo Guidocci. The work allows us to understand Cigoli's artistic development as it differs in its approach to a slightly smaller canvas of the same design in the Galleria Palatina in Florence which is dated 1605 and is recorded as being painted for Francesco Maria Ricasoli, later coming into the possession of Cardinal Carlo de' Medici.(2) Both works stand out for the beauty of the still-life elements and differ compositionally only in details: the background of the present painting provides depth by highlighting certain elements of the foliage, whereas the later version in Florence relies on a miniaturist's approach to landscape in its meticulous description of the background, a technique which the artist had assimilated from Northern European artists working in Rome such as Paul Bril. The colouring of the Florentine version also points to a later date stylistically: a red velvet mantle is placed under the skull at right which reaches behind the Magdalene, providing a piercing ray of colour of which the artist could not yet have conceived in 1598.
1. Scholars are unanimous in their support of the present work, save for Jaffé (see Literature) who downgraded the painting to a workshop copy, despite the date and signature.
2. A third variant of the composition, also in the Galleria Palatina in Florence, and long thought to be a workshop copy, has recently been reattributed to Cigoli and dated 1600 (see Chiarini et al. under Literature, p. 97, cat. no. 15, reproduced plate 15). Records suggest that another variant was in the collection of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini in Rome, though its size and support remain unknown. According to the Getty's files there is another otherwise unrecorded version, signed and dated, in a French private collection.