Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum after Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, ca. 1525–1569)
Etching with engraving; first state of two
12 5/8 x 16 5/8 in. (32.1 x 42.2 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1926 (26.72.14)
The figure of Mary Magdalene, the reformed and repentant prostitute, occupies but a small portion of the composition in this image, which was printed after a design by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Reclining under a lean-to of logs in the right foreground, the repentant saint is shielded from the grand alpine valley and mountainscape behind her. An aureole of light surrounds Mary in the sky above as she is taken to heaven by angels, as happened seven times a day during her thirty years of penance. This is one of a series of twelve prints known as the Large Landscapes, all of which reflect the deep impression the dramatic mountain vistas made on Bruegel as he traveled through the Alps on his return from Italy around 1554. Carried out primarily in etched lines that have the appearance of engraved ones, the unsigned Large Landscapes were executed by the brothers Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum and published by Hieronymus Cock through his Antwerp shop, At the Four Winds. The prints, which were among the most widely circulated and celebrated of Bruegel's images, allowed a large audience to become acquainted with his strikingly naturalistic and broad-eyed conception of landscape.