During his lifetime, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo produced seven known paintings of St. Mary Magdalen. Five of these paintings, including this Penitent Magdalen, show her in the cavern to which she retreated in penitence during the final years of her life. Here, the Magdalen is shown clutching her purple robes and looking up at the bright divine light the falls upon her. Two attributes of Mary Magdalen are displayed on the rock next to her: the skull, which serves as a reminder of the inevitability of death, and the cross, which is a symbol of her personal devotion to Christ and His teachings. The markings at the bottom of the canvas, the number 629 and the fleur-de-lis symbol, indicate that Penitent Magdalen was item number 629 in the royal inventory of Queen Isabella Farnese of Spain.