Pre-Raphaelite Sighting: Sandys’ ‘Mary Magdalene’ on America Unearthed

Here’s a new addition to the Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page. I was watching an episode of America Unearthed recently and was surprised to see Frederick Sandys’ painting Mary Magdalene.  I see Pre-Raphaelite images used all the time on television, but the use of Mary Magdalene was an unusual choice in this particular case.


Mary Magdalene was used to portray Tea Tephi, an Egyptian princess.  Sandys’ painting does not look very Egyptian, but for that matter she also does not look like the middle-Eastern that we know Mary Magdalene to have been.

Curious as to why the Sandys painting was chosen for the program, I googled Tea Tephi.  Surprisingly, Mary Magdalene is the first image that appears in Google image search.  For whatever reason, she appears on this ancestry page about Tea Tephi and I suspect that this is the source for America Unearthed’s use of the painting.


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