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Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas in Iconography

Poet, novelist, drama writer, literary scientist, professor Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas (1893-1967) was one of the most significant figures of the 20th century Lithuanian culture.

After graduating from Gudeliai Primary School and Marijampolė Gymnasium he enrolled to Seinai Seminary and in 1915 was ordained to priests. He then continued his studies at St. Petersburg’s Catholic Academy, Friburg Catholic University (where he obtained a doctoral degree), went for a short period to the University of München to deepen his literary knowledge. In 1923, he came back to Lithuania and started to work as a literature teacher.

Having published highly-rated poetry books (Between Two Dawns (“Tarp dviejų aušrų“), Roads and Crossroads (“Keliai ir kryžkeliai“), The Hour of Being (“Būties valanda“), The Window (“Langas“)) and distinguished as a talented, original symbolist poet, Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas also had a close relation with theatre, wrote several plays. Instantly arousing attention from society, his novel In the Shadows of Altars (“Altorių šešėly”) was translated into eight languages. It was, indeed, this controversial work that prompted society’s interest in its author. He would sometimes receive letters asking to explain some detail from the novel, the alleged “fact of author’s life”, or looking for the prototypes of characters in real life. Priest’s Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas marriage with Emilija Kvedaraitė in 1935 provoked strong reaction and resulted in certain after-effects, one of them being his unfrocking and excommunication from the church. It was, thus, not only his oeuvre but his life as well that evoked huge interest.

The exhibition Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas in Iconography presents the writer, his personality, and cultural activities as recorded in various media. The virtual exhibition consists of photos, documents, theatre posters, paintings, sculptures, and inscriptions on the books given to him as gifts, i.e. exhibits that thoroughly reveal and immortalise Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas. It is a unique visual biography of this Lithuanian classic writer.

Photographic collection consists of the photos made during 1909-1960. The oldest one made in 1909 in Marijampolė depicts a group of pupils among whom one may see a sixteen-year-old Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas, the then fourth grade student at Marijampolė Gymnasium. Some of the valuable photos were made not in Lithuania but during writer’s study years in Fribourg (Switzerland), Kislovodsk (Russia) and Voronezh (Russia). The certificate of his marriage with Emilija Kvedaraitė issued in Riga is also exhibited. The collection of documents is enriched with two other authentic exhibits, i.e. the duplicate of birth certificate and a foreign passport.

The exhibition presents works by Aldona Griciūnaitė (Molnikaitė), Augustinas Savickas, Leonas Žuklys,and Antanas Kučas that immortalise the writer in painting, sculpture and bookplates. A significant part of the exhibition consists of posters made to advertise theatre performances staged according to the plays of Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas.

Another interesting angle from which the exhibition approaches Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas personality is the inscriptions on the books given to the writer. Left by his colleagues, students, and friends, the inscriptions reveal not only the social status of the famous writer and professor, or else the attitude towards him but also the environment and people that surrounded him; there are the inscriptions by Oskaras Milašius, Albinas Juozapas Herbačiauskas, Salomėja Nėris, Antanas Vaičiulaitis and many other Lithuanian cultural figures.

The aim of the exhibition is to present a valuable collection of the Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas Memorial Flat-Museum that reflects a distinctive creative personality of one of the Lithuanian classic writers.

Photographic portrait of Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas

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