Ambrosius Benson returned to this subject frequently. The figure of the Magdalen originated from his Deipara Virgo, now in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp (G. Marlier, Ambrosius Benson, Brussels, 1957, pp. 1-3,172-3, 176-182, and 302-3, no. 80, pl. XLIII). Benson must have been very proud of his depiction of the Magdalen in that composition as he used her as the model for his series of paintings of the Magdalen reading, and the Magdalen holding an Ointment Jar (see, for instance, that at Hampton Court, op. cit., pp. 194 and 307, no. 94, pl. XLV).
The present work is closest to the Saint Mary Magdalen reading in the collection of Raimundo Ruiz, Madrid (op. cit., p. 309, no. 102, pl. LVII) which Marlier dates to circa 1529.