(b. 1844, Munkács, d. 1900, Endenich)

The Condemned Cell II

Oil on canvas, 119 x 170,5 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

"The Condemned Cell I" brought his first great success for Munkácsy in 1869. Later he produced several version of this theme. This second one differs from the first only in its size. It depicts the last hourst of a young lad who is condemned to death. The village folks are watching him curiously, the facial expression and gestures of every one of them shows a different kind of response: surprise, pity, or wen indifference. The lad's clenched hand and the Bible thrown onto the floor reveal of his outhursting fury.

Munkácsy painted this canvas during the years he spent at the Munich art academy, where the psychological approach was very fashionable a that time. Having assimilated this trend, Munkácsy depicted the event with emotionally differenciated facial expressions and gestures. The bright white paint in the dark basic colour of the picture generates a grim effect - in accordance with the mental state of the characters. The use of many characters and their arrangement is theatrical to a certain degree - and in this respect the picture is reminiscent of the anedotical German genre style - nevertheless, its honest way of rendering and its sensitivity for the issues of this age make this painting a true masterpiece of Realism.

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