This is no ordinary representation of Mary Magdalene, who became a follower of Christ and later, a saint. Traditionally shown holding a skull and contemplating her morality, here she lies almost naked on the ground, begged by her virtuous sister Martha to abandon her sinful life of vice and luxury. Virtue, a blond-haired angel, chases out Vice, a devil who bites his hand in anger as he turns for a last look at the Magdalene. The painting is a celebration of the triumph of virtue over vice, but Cagnacci takes obvious pleasure in describing worldly temptations – in particular, the attention he lavishes on the expensive costume, beautiful shoes, and jewellery scattered across the floor. More on Martha blames Mary for her Vanity
Guido Cagnacci, (January 19, 1601 – 1663) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, who produced many works characterized by their use of chiaroscuro and their sensual subjects. Cagnacci was born in Santarcangelo di Romagna, near Rimini. He worked in Rimini from 1627 to 1642. After that, he moved to work in Forlì, where he would have been able to observe the paintings of Melozzo.
In Rome he may have had an apprenticeship with the elderly Ludovico Carracci in Bologna. His initial output includes many devotional subjects. But moving to Venice under the name of Guico Baldo Canlassi da Bologna, he dedicated himself to private salon paintings, often depicting sensuous naked women from thigh upwards. In 1658, he traveled to Vienna, where he remained under patronage of the Emperor Leopold I. He died in Vienna in 1663. More Guido Cagnacci
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