Artibus et Historiae no. 59 (XXX)

2009, ISSN 0391-9064

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ELLEN L. LONGSWORTH - Stylistic and Iconographic Considerations: The Lamentation in the Church of Santo Sepolcro, Milan

A cult specific to Mary Magdalene had existed at the Milanese church of Santo Sepolcro from at least the end of the thirteenth century. The remains of two frescoes, datable to about 1280—1300 and located at the western end of the crypt of the church, confirm the presence there of an altar devoted to her. In the space once reserved as an oratory encompassing the ancient altar is a life-size terracotta and polychrome Lamentation that includes a particularly evocative representation of the Magdalene. Although the sculptures are undocumented and the identity of the artist or workshop responsible for them is the subject of speculation, the establishment at Santo Sepolcro in 1527 of a confraternity which met in the crypt, its membership exclusively women devoted to Mary Magdalene, is suggestive regarding the commissioning and dating of the sculptures.
This study considers the relationship between these sculptures, their site, and the commission presumed for them, while it searches for an explanation of their style and for a probable date of execution.

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