Mary of Magdala
My friend Elizabeth Kelly, an authority on Mary Magdalene, introduced me to the legends of Mary. I became very interested in doing a portrait of her as many artists have.
I searched for appropriate women to serve as the model for her. I attended a local theater play and found someone there in the play that really had the look I was searching for. She was open to modeling and I did a life pastel drawing. I continued on to do a major painting and I chose an “earlier era, in her life”.
• Title: Mary of Magdala
• Subject: Sitting by the sea
• Location: California
• Completed: 2011
• Pieces: One
• Style: Classic Realism
• Colors: Red, Black, Blue
• Signed: Yes
• Frame: n/a
• Purchase: Giclee, Other
Mary was a resourceful and successful business woman who independently supported herself and other single women in her community. Together they made and sold healing balms, oils, unguents, herbal remedies, soaps and perfumes to the caravan traders that passed through Magdala on what the Romans referred to as the Trans-Imperial Highway that operated between Damascus and Egypt.
Magdala was a fertile town fed by seven underground springs which supported the abundant growth of fruits, flowers, vegetables, grains and herbs. This prosperous town was a stop on the caravan route called, ‘The Via Maris,’ – ‘ The Way of the Sea,’ which extends east from Magdala, to Damascus and into Mesopotamia, Iran, India and China; and south along the Mediterranean coast to Egypt and Africa.
In the seaside town of Magdala, merchants would trade exotic oils, herbs, spices, teas, fabrics, beads and precious stones in exchange for fresh water, produce, olives, bread and dried fish before embarking on their long journeys. Goods as far away as India and China found their way to the shores of Galilee. Not only were goods transported but also ideas, philosophies, religions, music and cultures. This made Galilee a richly diverse and cosmopolitan center where peoples and customs met, mingled and intermarried.
Magdala is located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee between the towns of Capernaum to the north where Jesus lived and Tiberias to the south. The town of Magdala was architecturally built in the Hellenistic Greek style and was one of the richest in all of Galilee. There were docks and shipbuilding yards, salting sheds for fish, pottery shops, dye works and weavers of fine wool. It was also said to be the home to hundreds of shops were white doves were raised and sold.
The dove was sacred to the goddess Ishtar, Astarte and Aphrodite and the town of Magdala was also called the “The Village of Doves.” Magdala also was called the Little Bread Basket because of its fertility.