Gabriel Franck (Antwerp, ca 1590 – Antwerp, 1639)
Penitent Mary Magdalene
Oil on copper, Width 40 cm, Height 55 cm
A first clue to geographically frame this work is given by the chosen medium: Oil on copper.
Copper painting was born in the seventeenth century in the Dutch context and remains one of the peculiar means of expression of Flemish painting of the century. Furthermore, it is enough to observe the rendering of the wooded landscape depicted to note the debt that the artist holds towards Paul Bril’s lesson, in the rendering of details in particular, such as in the description of the trees.
The little information we have about the author is due to recent Spanish studies: the aim of the research is to shed light on the path taken by many Flemish paintings to Spain, to which very little time had been devoted until now.
We know that Gabriel Franck spent his entire life in his hometown of Antwerp, becoming a master of painting in his hometown guild in 1620.
The chosen subject is one of those that best expresses the bond of man – or in this case of woman – with nature: Mary Magdalene is depicted as a penitent, with her arms open and her gaze turned to the sky, immersed in a green and luxuriant, far from the traditional desert where the sources placed it. This choice indicates the desire to ennoble the landscape genre, granting it the task of being the bearer and reflection of human passions.
Bibl.: Rombouts/Van Lerius 1872; J. Sanzsalazar, ‘El comercio de pinturas entre Flandes y España en el siglo XVII a través del caso de Gabriel Franck (†1638): Catálogo preliminar de un pintor poco estudiado’, in: P.A. Galera Andreau, F. Serrano Estrella, La Cathedral de Jaén a examen II : Los bienes muebles en el contexto internacional, Jaén (Universidad de Jaén) 2019, p. 126-165 (Academia.edu)
Our reference: AF00657