Although Cézanne's paintings from this period are brighter and more vibrant than his early works, they are more strictly composed than those of the Impressionists who, like him, came to Auvers to paint.
This fragmented fresco was detached from the facade of the oratory of the Blessed Virgin Mary (formerly at Porta San Michele) in 1812. Vasari described the fresco as follows: "Over the gates of the city Correggio also painted a Madonna and Child; it is astonishing to see the lovely colouring of this fresco which has won him the most enthusiastic praise, even from passing strangers, who have seen nothing else of his."
The youth abandons his reserve, leans over towards the gypsy-woman and looks into her smiling face, as if he idolized her, and as if the woman was enticing a very willing man. We cannot be absolutely sure this picture is an original Caravaggio. Its authenticity has recently been based on two arguments. The genre-scene has been painted over a praying female saint, perhaps the Virgin Mary, and the most likely painter is the Cavaliere d'Arpino. The painting also carries the same indication of provenance from Cardinal del Monte's Collection as the Cardsharps. The same subject-matter recurs in Narcissus. In the case of this not-undisputed picture, the smooth way in which the paint is applied suggests a Caravaggesque artist of some note.
Many years after the competition for the tondi on the ceiling of the Libreria Marciana (in which Tintoretto did not take part), the painter was asked to complete the decoration of the reading room. Five of the figures in niches are by Tintoretto who for once refrained from crowded narrative scenes and concentrated on reproducing effects of light on the strained pose of a single figure.
In the Sala Inferiore there are two paintings of a solitary woman in a twilit, well-wooded and -watered landscape. Traditionally, but unconvincingly, the women are identified as St Mary Magdalen and St Mary of Egypt, penitent hermits who have nothing to do with context of the decoration of the room. The woman is the same in both paintings sitting in two adjacent spots by the same stream and wearing the same clothes. In one painting she faces the observer virtually head-on and in the other almost completely turns her back on us. In one pose she lowers her gaze to her closed book and in the other raises her eyes from the now open book in rumination. In all likelihood this is a dual picture of Mary as the protagonist of the story of redemption.
St Mary Magdalen is captured from the front, engrossed in reading, and given prominence like the large tree trunk on the left by a phosphorescent light falling on a magically mysterious nature. She is succinctly defined in the final fleeting instant before the night shadows fall on the outline of the rustic cottages, on the rolling plains, on the ridges of the hills and mountains.
Like the landscape with the figure of St Mary of Egypt, this work too was influenced by northern models: it suggests the paintings and prints of the Danube School (for instance by Albrecht Altdorfer and Wolf Huber), and woodcuts by Hans Baldung Grien, the Nuremberg graphic artist Virgil Solis, and the mysterious artist, known only by his monogram of HWG, who depicts St John the Evangelist on Patmos, surrounded by a fantastic landscape.
Tthe mistress inclines dynamically on her left forearm. Her compositional placement thrusts her against the compressed space on the right side of the canvas. Strong light outlines the writing arm against the shaded wall, reflecting in angular planes from the blouse that contrast abruptly with the regimented folds of the maid's costume.