The Art Archive / Galleria d’Arte Moderna Trento, Italy / Dagli Orti (A)

With a lover’s abandon, Mary Magdalene embraces the feet of Jesus after his body has been removed from the cross. Italian artist Eugenio Prati’s 1905 painting upholds a common misconception, dating to at least the sixth century C.E., about Mary Magdalene: that she is the unnamed sinful woman of the city who approached Jesus during a meal, bathed his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair and anointed them (Luke 7:37–38). The same tradition also identifies the unnamed woman taken in adultery (John 7:53–8:11) as the Magdalene. Mary’s reputation as a repentant whore derives solely from this conflation.