Portrait of a woman (potentially Mary Magdalen…

Portrait of a woman (potentially Mary Magdalene) by Lucas Cranach the Elder. 

The artist used contradictory symbolism in this painting, making identification a little difficult. Her hair is loose, signalling an unmarried virgin, but her direct gaze was inappropriate for an unmarried woman of a respectable family. Lucas Cranach the Elder was a great German artist painting for 16th-century aristocratic patrons. His paintings had to be respectable, able to be hung in the most eminent homes. That leaves the most likely subject the biblical Mary Magdalene, who was supposedly once a prostitute before converting.

Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum