Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, Tennessee

An eerie, golden light greets the three women when they arrive at Jesus’ tomb two mornings after the crucifixion. The early morning sky is still dark, the moon just setting, in American artist Henry Osawa Tanner’s moody rendition of the scene, “The Three Marys,” painted in 1910, and on display at the Fisk University Galleries in Nashville. The long hair and loose gown of the woman on the left identify her as Mary Magdalene.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the three women (here named Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome) come to the tomb to anoint the body (note the basket of perfumes and spices held by the center woman in the painting), but the corpse is gone. An angelic figure seated inside the tomb informs them that Jesus has risen from the dead. Seized with “terror and amazement,” the women flee the scene. “And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8).