Evangelists: St. Mark, approx. 1910
The figures consist of rectangles decorated with reliefs of Evangelists. Plaster casts are reinforced with an oakum and wooden battens. They’re covered with a light green and brown patina. The individual measurements look as follows:
St. Mark: height 78 cm, width 19 cm, depth 18 cm.
St. Luke: height 80 cm, width 19 cm, depth 18 cm.
St. Matthew: height 81 cm, width 20 cm, depth 18 cm.
These designs were used to make sculptures for standing figures in St. Florian’s Church in Cracow.
The evangelist Matthew was a tax collector until Christ called for him (Mt 9, 9). The icons most often depict Matthew with the Gospel in his hand, accompanied by a winged human figure. It is a reference to the vision of the prophet Ezekiel and the Apocalypse, a symbol of man, because he begins his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus. It is not known where and how the apostle died. According to some authors, he was martyred in Ethiopia, according to others, he was beheaded in Persia.
The second presented Evangelist Luke did not know Jesus personally, but did know his mother Mary. He was a doctor by profession. After the Apostle Paul came to his side and taught about Jesus, he decided to follow him. Church tradition identifies St. Luke with the authorship of the Gospels of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. He wrote his Gospel based on the words of others, including the apostles. Its symbol is the ox (calf), because it is a working and sacrificial animal, and this is how Luke presents Jesus as a great servant of men and as a sacrifice for all mankind. The relics of Saint Luke are in Padua, in the church of Saint Justine, in Prague, in the cathedral of Saint Vitus and in Thebes.
The last evangelist St. Mark, like Luke, “did not see, but believed” in Jesus. He wrote his Gospel alongside St. Peter in Rome. Mark is symbolized by the lion because he saw Jesus as the Messiah, as the Lion of David’ bloodline. He is the patron of writers, notaries and masons, especially worshiped in Venice.
Rumor has it the figures are actually crypto-portraits (caricatures) of the artist’s friends. In this way, St. Mark was to receive Jacek Malczewski’s features, and St. Luke was supposed to look like Stanisław Wyspiański.