MARY MAGDALENE WEEPING

This is Arnold Böcklin's Mary Magdalene Weeping Over the Dead Christ.  Almost everything about it strikes me as wrong — psychologically, dramatically, narratively, even theologically.  The translucent black mantle lends the image a perverse erotic quality.  The Magdalene's grief seems melodramatic, almost self-involved — the beautiful figure of the dead Christ becomes a prop for a diva.

And yet . . . it delivers a grisly, Gothic frisson, of the sort Böcklin specialized in, unsettling, macabre.   It's hard to stop looking at it.

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