THEN saw the second image which revealed to me it's actually her hair! Wow!
The imagery is both grotesque and amazing.... It was Mary Magdalene (in many interpretations) who used her hair to wipe her tears from Jesus' feet and anoint them (instead of Mary of Bethany, Martha's sister), thus her hair was an important feature. Perhaps she did have red hair and perhaps she didn't, but many Italian painters portrayed women with red hair. Here is an interesting blog post on red haired Italian women.
Nice (and a bit creepy) touch of modesty here in these paintings though, covering Mary's naked form with suit-like long hair. First image: a master of Gdansk, an unknown painter circa 1430. Second image: Giovanni Pietro di Birago (Italy, active from 1471-1513).
Third image: Antonio Vivarini (active from 1440-1480). These images are almost akin to modern hairy images of the mythical Bigfoot in some ways, but as I stare at the paintings, I think they're growing on me. If I can love early Renaissance music and the sackbut, krummhorn and shawm, I can surely make the stretch to strange paintings of hair-covered saints!
Here's a very interesting and informative article link Who Framed Mary Magdalene?
|Mary Magdalene Raised by Angels in Glory, Unknown from Gdansk, 1430.|
|Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Pietro di Birago, Italy ca. 1500|
|Mary Magdalene by Antonio Vivarini, ca. 1460|