Thursday, June 25, 2009

Christ in the Desert

Title: Christ in the Desert (aka Christ in the Wilderness)
Artist: Ivan Kramskoi

Medium: Oil on canvas
Date: 1872
Size: 180 x 210 cm
Location: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

This painting depicts events in Matthew, Chapter 4, where Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, tested and tried by the devil. Here, he went without food for forty days and forty nights. Though a traditional topic, Kramskoi imbues the work with new social interpretation and deep philosophical meaning. Christ in the Desert carried the idea of man’s moral duty to society, and therefore greatly impressed the painter’s contemporaries.

The Artist, born in Russia in 1837, attended the prestigious St Petersburg Academy of the Arts, but was eventually expelled for his reactions to the Academy's insistence to adhere to Academic traditions. Under the influence of the ideas of the Russian revolutionary democrats, he was a key founder of the Peredvizhniki (Wanderers), the first truly Russian national “school of art”. It stressed the heroism of ordinary life and ordinary people engaged in their usual activities, resulting in touching and dignified paintings of the peasantry. He died April 26, 1887.

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