Efea Rutlin, University of Manchester MA student, Art Gallery and Museum Studies, shares her research about The maker of The Penitent Magdalen.
I am currently doing a placement as part of my MA, working with the Out of the Crate exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. I chose to work on the sculpture The Penitent Magdalen. This is a ‘Cold Case’ which means that there is a lack of information about it in the gallery’s archive – no Artist’s file or record of curatorial research. However there were leads to investigate! A record of where the sculpture came from, a gift from Mrs Theodora Winter, and an attribution to the Italian sculptor, Giuseppe Mazzuoli
Raphael Morghen, Mary Magdalene, penitent in the desert, 1801 (detail)
Was it really a gift?
First I began with Mrs Theodora Winter, who was she? How would she have got the sculpture? With the date that the sculpture was given to the gallery, I looked at Census Data for Lancashire around that period. Aha! A Theodora Winter appeared. She had lots of connections in the art world. Before she was a Winter she was a Barlow, her father Thomas Barlow (1883-1964) was an industrialist and banker with an interest in the arts, becoming a member of the council of the Royal College of Art and was the Chairman for the Manchester City Art Gallery for some time. She married Carl Winter in 1953, who worked as an art historian and musuem curator at the Victoria and Albert Musuem, and then the Fitzwilliam Museum. They divorced in 1953. He is a key figure in history, through giving testimony to the Wolfenden Committee, whose report in 1967 led to the decrimilisation of sex between two consenting men. He asserted that sexuality was innate, not the result of “seduction” or “recruitment”. Does this make the relief significant? The way in which it was connected to a particular figure, and was it part of the story of LGBT+ rights in Britain?
But back to Theodora, it sounds like she would have been surrounded by art for much of her life, and it is disappointing that more information on her personal life has not been recorded. After posting on Art Detective we realised that some of the information recorded online was wrong. Art UK had the piece as ‘accepted in lieu of tax by HM government and allocated to Manchester Art Gallery, 1974’, which did not match the Art Gallery’s records, and so this has now been changed.
Conclusion so far
We can now be more confident about the attribution to Mazzuoli, backed up by a few different sources. We now know a little more about the donor, Theodora Winter, and interesting members of her family.
If you are reading this, and have any more information please let us know.
We are now reviewing the information and advice that has come through to us on Art Detective and we will be setting up an Artists File for the Mazzuoli sculpture to capture all the latest research.
Efea Rutlin, University of Manchester MA student, Art Gallery and Museum Studies
Hawley, H. (1973). Giuseppe Mazzuoli: Education of the Virgin. The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 60(10), 292-299. Available at: www.jstor.org/stable/25152503
Russel, Gordon (2004) Barlow, Sir Thomas (Tommy) Dalmahoy. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Published online 23rd September 2004.
Schlegel, U. (1967). Some Statuettes of Giuseppe Mazzuoli. The Burlington Magazine, 109(772), 388-386. Available at: www.jstor.org/stable/875352
Trinity College Chapel, (2019) Carl Winter. Available at: http://trinitycollegechapel.com/about/memorials/brasses/winter/
Victoria and Albert Museum, citing an obituary in the Times (1966) Obituary of Carl Winter. Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120203131515/http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/people-pages/obituary-carl-winter/