This large canvas became part of the collection of the Gallerie dell’Accademia in 1911 when it was purchased by the state from an antique dealer in Vicenza. It comes from the chapel in Palazzo Gorleri in Genoa and originally hung in the refectory in the convent of Santa Maria della Passione. The biblical scene from Luke (7:36–39) depicts the banquet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. A sinner, often thought to be Mary Magdalene, is kneeling before Jesus, her hands crossed upon her breast. As an act of contrition she is preparing to wash her Saviour’s feet with her tears and then anoint them with perfumed oil from a beautifully decorated jar.
The work dates to the 1620s and shows Caravaggesque features in its theatrical layout and in the emphatic gestures of the figures, as well as in the very noticeable chiaroscuro that dominates the background where the figures are immersed in dark shadow. The richness of the visual elements and the handling of detail such as examples of still life and the servant figures to the sides recall the great “banquet” tradition in Venetian painting of the second half of the sixteenth century, especially in works by Veronese and Tintoretto, which were well known to Strozzi even before he took up residence in the Serenissima in 1630.