Vanity and Modesty

The present work is based on an original composition by Leonardo da Vinci (1542-1519) as recorded in a painting by Bernardino Luini. The prime version is in the Rothschild collection at Prégny (inv. 91); a variant is in the San Diego Museum of Art (inv. 1936.23). The image represents Mary Magdalene, on the right, being rebuked for her vanity and taste for luxury by her sister Martha. Martha's constant pressure to lead a more virtuous life eventually inspired Mary to become a follower of Christ, whose feet she bathed at the Last Supper. The jar of ointment, her typical attribute, is seen here at far right.


Kathleen, Duchess of Newcastle (according to a label on the reverse).