The Repentant St. Mary Magdalene
The Repentant St. Mary Magdalene

The Repentant St. Mary Magdalene

Author: Neveravičius Vladislovas , 1814 - 1891

Created: 1842 m. 

Material / technique: oil on canvas.

Dimensions:  117 x 90,5 cm. 

Signature: J. Tysiewicz / 1842 (bottom middle).

The Penitent St Mary Magdalene by Wladyslaw Niewiarowicz (alias Jonas Tysiewicz as of 1840) is, without the shadow of a doubt, his best piece of work that received a tremendous response from the public right after it was revealed. St Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a penitent hermit in a cave leaning against a rock, her hands set in prayer against a cross made of sticks and a skull. Her half-naked body is illuminated with the warm light from a small oil lamp and the cool moon rays coming from the painting’s top-left corner, where appears to be a hole in the rock. On top of the rock, there is a tool of discipline – a whip for self-flagellation. We would be within our rights saying that no other piece of work by a graduate from the Vilnius School of Art (or a 19th century Lithuanian painter in general) received as much attention in the press of the period or was showcased at as many exhibitions as this one. The artist himself created several oil and watercolour versions of the fabled picture; its lithographic copies would be printed as well. Authors from the late 19th century were very generous in their appreciation of the Magdalene by Niewiarowicz– Tysiewicz because it was considered to be the first painting of the ‘Polish paintbrush’, its exhibition to travel different European countries and draw the attention of foreign art experts. The signature and the date inscribed on the painting date Niewiarowicz’s Penitent St Mary Magdalene 1842. The artist signed the painting using his pen name, J. Tysiewicz. (Text by Rūta Janonienė, PhD).