/ 24 June 2008

Mary Magdalene painting the work of Titian

A painting of Biblical ”sinner” Mary Magdalene, seemingly imploring God’s mercy while attempting to cover her bare breasts, has been revealed as the work of Italian Renaissance master Titian, officials said on Tuesday.

Art conservation experts in Milan made the discovery when they began carefully scraping off a patina of dirt that over the centuries had come to cover much of the oil painting’s surface.

Scribbled underneath, they found the Latin phrase ”Titianus fecit [Made by Titian]”.

”It is a very important discovery,” said Monsignor Franco Buzzi, an official at Milan’s Ambrosiana Library where the painting has been kept since 1618.

Previously attributed to artists of the school of Titian, rather than to the master himself, the painting shows Mary Magdalene with long flowing hair, which some have noted appear to be of a duller colour than Titian’s celebrated red.

But according to Buzzi, besides the signature, another tell-tale sign of Titian’s touch is the presence in the painting of an alabaster vase, another item that came to light through the restoration work.

Titian’s most famous rendition of Mary Magdalene, which is on display in Florence’s Pitti Museum, also includes a similar vase. — Sapa-dpa