Inscribed in graphite lower left, "Mary of Egypt;" signed and dated in graphite lower right, "Paula Rego 95".
Rego is renowned for her forceful depictions of women. Her incisive, sometimes surreal, drawings, paintings, and prints are informed by artistic antecedents such as Francisco Goya and William Hogarth, and are frequently rooted in fairy tales and biblical narratives. This pencil drawing of a stolid female figure, identified in an inscription as Mary of Egypt, is a study for a large untitled pastel from 1995 on long-term loan from a private collection to Fundação de Serralves in Porto, Portugal. The figure, which has been squared for transfer to a larger sheet, is drawn from a live model. She tugs at her girdle in apparent discomfort, the garment's flimsiness forming a stark contrast to the monumentality of her body and the directness of her gaze. Rego has described the subject of this drawing as "an ageing woman in an unflattering pose ... cast out, a sinner in the wilderness, and maybe she's an early attempt to work with the imagery of Mary Magdalene."