(b. 1844, Munkács, d. 1900, Endenich)

The Condemned Cell

Oil on wood, 88 x 116 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

The outlaw's life and figure was a major concern for Munkácsy ever since his childhood. It is known from his "Memoirs" that he suffered much during the years of apprenticeship and that he always wanted to see a living outlaw as a symbol of free life even if he had to wait for him under a table in the inn.

In the drama of "Condemned Cell", he painted the embarrassed apprentice. Munkácsy had followed the life of his hero in his earliest genre pictures painted in 1867 or illustrations for journals. He needed an immense amount of skill in order to paint a true picture of a man condemned to death who had been given proper food and looked after for three days, and then his family, friends and enemies were to come to say good-bye to him. His wife is sobbing her heart out in a corner, his little daughter is pottering about not knowing what is going on and she is munching something. The outlaw must have resigned to his lot and has nothing more to expect of life: he throws the Bible to the ground. A patch of the blue sky becomes visible behind the bars.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.