Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kramskoi's 'Christ in the Desert'

Ivan Kramskoi's Christ in the Desert (1872) is more than just an illustration from the Bible. It uses the story of Christ's sojourn in the wilderness to comment on personal and contemporary concerns.



Kramskoi (Russian, 1837-1887) wrote: "Influenced by a variety of things, I have come to a very distressing understanding of life, and I clearly see that there is a moment in every man's life...when he is in doubt: whether to go to the right or to the left This, then, is not Christ. Or rather, I don't know who it is. It is an expression of my own ideas...Christ is alone and tormented by doubts: should he go to the people, teach them, suffer and perish, or should he yield to temptation and give it all up."

The critics of the old guard did not receive the painting warmly, accusing the artist of distorting the scripture and expressing anti-religious feelings. But the younger artists embraced the vision. Tolstoy said, "This is the best Christ I know."
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From the book Fifty Russian Artists, published by Raduga Publishers, Moscow

7 comments:

Chris Jouan said...

The geology intrigues me. His gaze on the single precariously balanced rock is interesting. As though he is waiting to see which way it will fall.

Sheridan said...

Went to the website you had with Kramskoi's name highlighted, and there is a portrait of someone named Taras Shevchenko, that could be Vladimir Putin's doppleganger if you shaved off his mustache. Thanks for the post he did some really nice work.

artsworth said...

I wonder if he is thinking,"My Yoke is easy and my burden light". Referring to the artists intent to capture the emotional state of the model, Mogilevtsev in "Fundamentals of Painting" (previously reviewed on this blog), stated,"....your feelings will be "recorded" with the paint and will be transmitted to the viewer. Kramskoi has transmitted Christ's humanity very well. Thanks for showing us this work on your blog James.

Glenn Tait said...

In regards to Jesus' looking at the stones Matthew 4:3 comes to mind: Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

My Pen Name said...

this and Tissot's are some of the most heartfelt depictions of Jesus I have seen.

jytte said...

This is the son of MAN. I agree with Tolstoy

ghostvillage1 said...

this painting gave me shivers...... awesome