The Assumption of Mary Magdalene, by Baron Marochetti

The Assumption of Mary Magdalene by Baron Marochetti (1805-1867). 1837. Marble. Group for the High Altar of The Madeleine in Paris.

In his biographical account, Philip Ward-Jackson describes this work as "colossal" and it certainly makes an enormous impact on the observer. This is especially so when the doors of the church are open at night: the sculpture rises, luminous, at the top of the Rue Royale. For the sculptor, the tableau would most probably have had added political associations: "the identification of the Magdalen with France, not overtly stated, can hardly have been far from the sculptor's mind," writes Ward-Jackson elsewhere, explaining that the decoration of the Madeleine was originally intended to be "loaded with reference to the act of regicide" ("Expiatory Monuments," 266). This was one of Marochetti's first big commissions, given to him in 1834 as "one of the personal favourites" of the July Monarchy, the sculptor having” by then identified himself "with the self-consciously romantic school of sculpture" (Ward-Jackson, Maintaining Distinction, 179, 174).

The Interior and Exterior of the Madeleine

Left: The tableau in its setting. Right: The Madeleine. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Related Material on the Church

Photographs by the author, 2010. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a text document.]


Ward-Jackson, P. "Expiatory Monuments” by Carlo Marochetti in Dorset and the Isle of Wight." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. Vol. 53 (1990): 266-80.

_____. "Maintaining Distinction in the International Sculpture Market." In The Lustrous Trade: Material Culture and the History of Sculpture in England and Italy, c.1700-1860. Ed. Cinzia Maria Sicca and Alison Yarrington. Leicester: Leicester University Press, 2000. 174-90.

_____. "(Pietro) Carlo Giovanni Battista Marochetti." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. Viewed 22 October 2010.

Last modified 23 October 2010