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The Penitent Mary Magdalene. Etching. 29.3 x 23 cm. Thieme-Becker III, p. 303.
Ignaz Johann Bendl is mainly known as a sculptor. He was closely connected to Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and executed important commissions in Vienna and Brno. Bendl’s masterwork is the Fountain of the Four Elements (1699) in Brno, the structure of which is reminiscent of the work of Bernini, whom Bendl is said to have known. Bendl also produced a small but very refined printed oeuvre that includes a few biblical subjects in addition to prints after his own sculptures and designs for the applied arts.
Our etching of The Penitent Mary Magdalene is evidently very rare; it does not appear in the older critical literature such as Nagler, Heller-Andresen, and Le Blanc. Here, the Magdalen is shown in meditation in a bare, rocky cave, while her body is bathed in rays of heavenly light. Her pose, with the raised right leg and the emphasis on the curve of her upper body, appears light and animated. Her head is bent slightly to one side to allow her to hear the divine revelation more clearly. The whole scene is imbued with a light, vibrant, and baroque sense of pathos. The dramatic contrasts of light and shade between the heavy dark rock and the illuminated figure emphasize the beauty of the Magdalene. The technical handling of the sheet is equally fluid and subtle. Bendl uses a very free, painterly etching technique, using a great variety of graphic patterns that harmonize with the baroque mood of the scene.
A superb, contrasting impression with even margins around the platemark. In excellent, pristine condition.