Saturday, August 6, 2011

19 IMAGES FROM THE 19th CENTURY: PART 19 - Temptation of Christ

Title: Temptation of Christ
Artist: Ilya Repin
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: tbd
Date: 1896
Location: tbd


Matthew 4:8-10 Again the devil takes him to a very high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, and says to him “All these things will I give thee if, falling down, thou wilt do me homage.” Then says Jesus to him, “Get thee away, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt do homage to the Lord thy God, and him alone shalt thou serve.”

Traditional academics have argued that great religious painting ends with Tiepolo (1696 – 1770), that subsequent painters produced charming works, but did nothing new. But as we have seen, the nineteenth century was a period of creative searching and upheaval for European artists, notably among the French. Traditionalists, like Ingres, tried to stem the tide of new styles, but by the time of his death in 1867, a new generation of creative talent, such as Manet and Cezanne, had forged the way ahead. The Symbolist movement, a continuation of the Romantic tradition of artists like Blake and Turner, anticipated the psychology of Freud and Jung. With notable artists such as Bocklin and Redon, their use of mythological and dream imagery created a visual language of the soul, and made extensive use of Christian imagery. More a philosophical approach than an actual style of art, they were a major influence on some Expressionists. Like most Europeans of the nineteenth century, all these artists were raised in a Christian culture, with early life organized around the central rituals of the church. This does not mean, necessarily, that they were pious, conservative church-goers, but only that such a milieu allowed their creative spirits inspiration to create some masterpieces of Christian art.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (August 1844 – September, 1930) was a leading Russian painter and sculptor of the Peredvizhniki artistic school. His realistic works often expressed great psychological depth and exposed the tensions within the existing social order. During his maturity, Repin painted many of his most celebrated compatriots, including the novelist Leo Tolstoy. Additionally, Repin devoted much time to painting religious subjects, though his treatment of these was usually innovative and not traditional. Shortly after 1900 Repin moved to Kuokkala, Finland, located about an hour's train ride from St. Petersburg. Later, as the artist did not accept the Revolution of 1917, he did not want to go back to Russia, even though in 1926 a delegation sent by the Ministry of Education of the Soviet Union helped him financially and tried to entice him to return. To acknowledge and commemorate Repin's artistic achievement, in 1948 Kuokkala was renamed Repino.

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