In Southern Germany the production of wooden sculpture for religious devotion was widespread. Dating from around 1500, this sculpture was probably part of a much larger altarpiece. Although its back panel is not from the period, the painted relief has retained much of its original character. The title, Noli me tangere (Do not touch me) refers to the words the newly resurrected Christ spoke to his devoted follower Mary Magdalene, who was grieving at his tomb. Initially mistaking him for a gardener (Christ is shown holding a spade), Mary suddenly recognised Christ and tried to kiss his robe, which he would not allow. Mary Magdalene can be recognised by the ointment jar (shown below Christ‟s spade), with which she had anointed His feet just before His death.
Noli me tangere or Christ in the Garden with Mary Magdalene About 1500 © Compton Verney, photo by Jamie Woodley