The Magdalen Weeping, c. 1525 [Workshop of Master of the Magdalen Legend]
The Magdalen holds the jar of ointment with which she anointed Christ. The pot is mounted in gold and appears to be made of a semi-precious blue-grey stone, intricately carved. Around her neck is a rosary, a rare representation of a rosary-necklace in art. The colorful doublet and expensive textiles allude to the Magdalen’s sinful past. The artist was evidently active in Brussels.
In 1926 the Maharajah of Patiala shipped trunkloads of gems to Paris to be reset by Cartier in the “Parisian style.” One of their most spectacular creations was this necklace, which featured a cascade of seven large diamonds and the De Beers yellow diamond, which weighed 234.69 carats. The finished necklace was comprised of 2,930 diamonds, 962.25 carats.
In 1998, the necklace was discovered in very poor condition in London. All of the centre stones, including the De Beers diamond, were gone. Cartier has replaced the stones with substitute cubic zirconia and synthetic rubies as they search for suitable replacements.