Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Removal from the Cross

Title: The Removal from the Cross

Artist: Vasili Perov

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: tbd.

Date: 1878

Location: The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Mark 15:46 [Joseph] wrapped the body in the linen,

Mary, Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea have removed Christ from the cross and have been preparing body for entombment. Christ rests on the ground, his livid body a shocking contrast with the blood-red sky in the background, the crown of thorns and the nail from his feet lying next to him. A mourning Mary looks as if she could barely sit up. Mary Magdalene makes no effort to rise and lies holding his feet and burying her face in grief. Joseph has straightened up after cleaning the body and his ramrod straight back parallels the crosses while offering a contrast with the bowed, almost crushed female figures and denoting the upright man. The basin, full of Christ's blood, may evoke the legend according to which Joseph filled a holy grail with Christ's blood.

Vasili Grigorievich Perov (December 23, 1834 – May 29, 1882) was a Russian painter. He was an illegitimate son of the baron G. K. Kridiner, an Arzamas prosecutor. In 1846, he entered the Art School of Stupin in Arzamas, where he got his nickname of Perov for his good handwriting (from Russian pero, pen). He lived at a time when an artist’s indifference to social problems was considered immoral in Russia. And it was Perov who took up a vital and most complicated task of establishing the principles of critical realism. He became one of the most predominating figures in Russian painting of the 1860s. In 1871, together with Ivan Kramskoi, Nikolai Ge, and Grigory Miasoyedov became a founder of the Itinerants’ Society of Traveling Exhibitions (the Peredvizhniki). Also in 1871, Perov became a professor at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and he turned out to be an excellent teacher.

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