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The Real Presence of Christ and the Penitent Mary Magdalen in the Allegory of Faith by Johannes Vermeer

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This article considers the placement and relationship of objects in Jan Vermeer’s unusual Allegory of Faith in the context of Dutch Roman Catholicism in the seventeenth century. Contemporary illustrated mass books, Jesuit writings, and primary sources regarding the Roman Catholic mission to the Netherlands suggest that Vermeer depicted a genre scene that served as a domestic church setting where the eucharistic miracle of transubstantiation is celebrated. Additional pictorial and iconographic evidence supports the identification of the richly attired woman in Vermeer’s painting as the penitent saint Mary Magdalen, representing the figure of faith.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: University of Montana – Missoula

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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