The artist would take on a number of Christian themes within her career, but would attempt to avoid just replicating the same approaches taken by other artists. She would re-imagine some of these famous scenes, particularly where female figures were used. The Penitent Magdalene is featured within this painting, and we can also compare it with her other interpretations of the same theme.

Artemisia Gentileschi would complete commissioned pieces many times in her career, but occasionally there would be no buyer lined up initially. She learnt very quickly as to which topics would sell, and work in that manner. She also discovered different tastes existed in different parts of the country, and would live in the likes of Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples during her lifetime.


Within this painting we see the female figure resting her head on her hands. She looks upwards, whilst being entirely exposed across her top half, other than for a carefully angled arm. Her lower half is wrapped in a red cloth, perhaps a dress which has fallen down whilst she struggles outside.

Behind the Penitent Magdalene we find a darkened landscape. A tree lines the right hand side, providing a vertical balance to the piece, whilst further green shrubs continue along a similar angle. A light sky then appears in the distance, bringing small amounts of light into the piece.

On larger projects the artist would sometimes call upon specialised in genres such as architecture and landscape painting who would complete those sections of collaborative pieces. It is possible that the same happened here, but there is no evidence to suggest that anyone worked alongside her on this particular painting.

Famous Penitent Magdalene Paintings

The Penitent Magdalene had featured witin western art for centuries even before the Renaissance and Baroque artists would start to include it within their own oeuvres. Penitent Magdalene by Donatello perhaps remains the most famous sculpture of this topic, and replicates the same atmosphere as found within the Artemisia painting displayed here.

In terms of paintings, there were notable contribtions from the likes of Titian, Georges de la Tour and Tintoretto, although the list is almost endless because of the prominence of Christian themes within both the Baroque and Renaissance eras. Perhaps the emotional, reflective mood was best suited to the Baroque era, when emotions were let loose within the art world.

Size, Medium and Location

The Penitent Magdalene in a Landscape resides today within a private collection at Walpole Galleries in London, UK. This city hosts a number of her artworks, both in private and public collections, and she also lived here for a few years towards the end of her career.

The painting itself measures 49 cm in height, and 39.7 cm in width. It was produced using oils, which was entirely typical for the Baroque era, but rather than canvas, Gentileschi made use of a copper surface on which to paint this piece.

This piece was a lesser known artwork from her career, but its attribution has been confirmed in a number of publications on the artist's career, including several 20th century catalogue raisonees, in which her entire oevure was collated together.