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Jan Brueghel the Younger

Christ appears to Mary Magdalene or Noli me tangere

Copper: 23,5 x 37,5 cm

introduction

This little copper is a very fine example of the art of Jan Brueghel the Younger. It depicts a scene described by John and shows Christ and Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday. This Latin expression that we find in the Vulgate of St. Jerome means “don’t touch me” or “don’t hold me back”. Lamenting over Christ’s death, Mary Magdalene sees him before her without knowing it’s him: she thinks he’s the gardener. Jesus says to her: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him: “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." In this episode, Jesus prevents Mary Magdalene from touching him: he must first ascend to Heaven. Then Mary Magdalene says to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord and this is what he said.”

The great beauty of this copper undoubtedly lies in the position of the Saint, who is about to touch Christ. In a resolutely delicate pose, draped in his red robe, he holds up his hand to prevent her. The scene takes place in a charming traditional landscape, opening onto an evanescent town in the background. In the foreground, we are treated to a splendid still life composed of artichokes arranged in a wheelbarrow. Small figures can be seen walking here and there in the painting. The appeal of this small yet accomplished work lies in its free and spirited touch, and its lively and precious colours.

This copper can be compared to the version on wood kept in Bremen, whose figures are attributed to Rubens (59,5 x 100 cm). It dates from the late 1630s. The composition can also be seen in another panel belonging to a collection in Hamburg, which was sold in Cologne in 2005. Lastly, there is a similar work in San Francisco where the central figures are attributed to a painter from Rubens’ studio The central part with the two figures was used again in a monumental painting from Rubens’ studio, which is kept at the Rijksmuseum.

Provenance :
Private collection, France