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The last supper

Painting, 1883, 283×382 cm

Description of the artwork «The last supper»

Why "The last supper" by Nikolai GE disappointed Dostoevsky, on the contrary, conquered Tolstoy? Why in the Tretyakov gallery is not the original, but only a small author's copy, although Pavel Tretyakov "the last supper" very like? Why in the picture you cannot see the face of Judas? Why Christ is not sitting, but lying? Why to start work on the last supper by Nikolay GE has picked up the brush and how painting helped him return to painting? One of the apostles GE wrote with himself, and who – with his beloved wife Anna Petrovna? Why is the picture called "a split in the nihilists"? Archiv gathered interesting facts about the most famous Russian paintings of the interpretation of the last supper of Christ.

"The last supper" as a way out of a creative impasse

From the biography of Nikolai Nikolaevich GE knows that "the last supper" appeared in the early 1860s, years after the rather difficult period of silence. "Over the years GE almost did not take a brush in hands"– suggests art historian Natalia Zograf. If you look at this fact from the heights of religious painting, such "abstinence" Kyo something akin to a prolonged fasting and prayer, without which the painters were not taken for responsible work.

But the crisis, GE was more prosaic reasons. In the late 1850's-early 1860-ies he almost fanatically worshipping genius Karl Briullovlived in the Italian capital in an environment of artists, who were called the "Russian colony in Rome" (and Ivan Turgenev in a letter from Rome Leo Tolstoy called much sharper: "...fools infected with bouloudinat"). There GE is beginning to realize that this Briullov's romantic detachment, this Antikythera tradition they can no longer anything in the creative plan to give. But where to go and how to work on GE are not represented. And because man it was hot and impulsive, I decided it was time to leave art. Decided and left.

In a depressed state of mind GE left Rome Florencethe life there at the time was much cheaper (and GE, which now had little to no income from his paintings, it was to feed a family his wife and two young sons). And in Florence in the hands of GE, which in the absence of work voraciously read books, gets "Life of Jesus" by the German historian and theologian David Friedrich Strauss, eager to show reliably-the historical Christ and the questioning of the supernatural moments of His earthly life – the virgin birth, the Transfiguration, the resurrection, the ascension, and finally His very divine nature. Nikolai GE, earlier infatuated heed to the materialistic statements of Herzen and Belinsky and mental warehouse is quite foreign to mysticism, was impressed as Strauss "breaks the whole mythological side of the biography of Christ". "Arriving from Rome to Florence writes GE, – I read the writings of Strauss and began to understand SV.The Scriptures in the modern sense".

What do you mean "in the modern sense"? Most likely, the language of GE is to understand the gospel is not abstract, not mystically, but purely psychologically – and to bring thus the events of nearly two thousand years ago, to make them emotionally comprehensible.

When GE got to the Chapter on the last supper in the book of Strauss, he suddenly realized that he sees her characters as living and clearly understands their feelings and their motives, and that he, more than a year, nothing to write, before my eyes now is the finished picture: "Images of Christ, John, Peter and Judas became for me absolutely definitive – live, – recognized GE, – I saw those scenes, when Judas leaves the last supper, and there is a complete gap between Judas and Christ... I saw there the grief of the Savior, losing forever the student of man. Near Him lay John: he understands, but does not believe the possibility of such a gap; I saw Peter, he jumped up, too, because I realized everything and came to the indignation – he is a hot man; I saw at last, and Judas: he will go... Here it is the picture! A week was podmalevka picture in real size, no thumbnail".

In short, the artist caught the very common in the history of art a paradox, when, figuratively speaking, he drives a Revelation in the door, and it "flies out the window." He wants to get rid of any mysticism but gets quite mystical in its essence, the birth of a masterpiece. He deliberately avoids the supernatural, but the force of his art is that necessarily proves the reality of Revelation.

The subject for the painting is traditional, and what originality the concept of GE?

In the traditional iconography of the last supper, the sacred center of the picture there was always a table (1, 2), where the Lord's supper, seated around him at almost an equal distance from each other of the apostles. GE significantly dinamismul, breaks this balanced composition. For the viewer it looks approximately like he was an accidental witness enters the room and right at the entrance face-to-face with the outgoing Judah, snapped up coat. "Face-to-face person can not see", as you know, here we are not able to make out the face of Judas. He moves in darkness (both literally and figuratively), the light source remains in his back, and because large and abrupt traits of Judas is seen only by the most generalized way. Here there is a stereoscopic effect: if we focus our gaze on the "circle of light" with Christ and the apostles, then Judas is like "blur". The poet and critic Apollon Grigoriev was noticed immediately after the appearance of the "last supper": "Stand right up against the picture – disappears Judas".

The lamp set on the floor, bright lights the table and the faces of the two apostles – John young on the left and old Peter's on the right. And somehow they GE seeks to empower expressive emotions: John naive and could not believe that Judas so treated by the Teacher, and Peter saw the life, it is difficult to surprise, but it is up to the depth of being outraged. The Savior, in contrast with them, not expressing emotions and self-absorbed in the experience of the fact of betrayal, which, as we know from the gospel was known to him in advance. By the way, here Christ is not sitting, as in the same Leonardo da Vinci, and not worth it, towering over the table, like Tintoretto(GE visited Milan and Venice and could see this mural painting) and, in accordance with the Gospels, "reclines". Strauss mentions constantly observe in the biblical text "the Eastern custom of eating lying down."

Who were the prototypes of the heroes of "the last supper"?

Wanting to bring greater life of confidence, GE began to look for his paintings of figures and faces. Specially went to Livorno – there have been before him when he wrote "The Appearance Of Christ"Alexander Ivanov, who believed character types along the coast of the Jews is very suitable for the biblical scenes. But for the main persons in "the last supper" GE found models even closer: just at home, in Florence.

In the early 1860s there with his family moved to live writer and publicist Alexander Herzen, the second (after Briullov), the idol of his youth Nikolai GE. The artist so fervently shared the liberal ideas of Herzen, even his bride (also partial to Herzen) as a wedding gift presented to his article. Find out what Herzen lives in the same city, was to GE a shock. He asked friends to introduce him to the publisher of "Bell" and persuaded Herzen the portrait. This portrait is objectively one of his best works – he GE valued tremendously. When he decides to return to Russia, you are lucky in the country, the image of Herzen practically contraband because the writer remained here outside the law, his portrait can be seized at the border. GE took it out of the frame, pasted on top of a painting of Moses and turned the tube (traces of this collapse are still visible in the portrait in the Tretyakov gallery). But other than that, Herzen became the protipe of Christ from the last supper. His face, of course, is visible only in the General contours and highly refined, but the pose with the hand propped his head, borrowed Kyo with extant photos of Russia, made by a Russian court photographer Sergei Levitsky. Conservative critics of this gave grounds to say that GE makes Herzen the Messiah, and instead of the last supper depicted a "split in the nihilists."

John, the youngest of the apostles, GHE wrote "with his beloved, his deep appreciate and also cost wife Anna Petrovna"the words of the famous critic Stasov. No contradiction it was not: and long before GE traditional iconography gave John a feminine appearance is so emphasized his youth and purity.

Well, for the Apostle Peter by nature was Nikolay Nikolaevich. GE, as we remember, called Peter "hot man"and in his own temperament, the ability to ignite certain idea, determination, and tendency to quickly become disillusioned, GE saw its a definite similarity with the personality of Peter. When he wrote the picture, the artist was 31-32 years (Repin "Far-near" writes about GE as "then another young beautiful brunette"), and he had deliberately to put itself on the canvas. But if you look at late portrait of GEcreated by Nikolai Yaroshenko, or the last self-portraitwritten by GE almost 30 years after "the last supper", it is impossible not to marvel at how old GE over the years has become like his fellow Apostle Peter of "the last supper". The artist Grigory Myasoedov even joked about the "Apostolic head" GE.

I thought about "the last supper" contemporaries Nikolai GE?

As usual with masterpieces, and violently abused, and passionately extolled. Repin, Kramskoy (he even photocopied), Tretyakov, Tolstoy, Saltykov-Shchedrin – praised; Dostoevsky, Stasov, and many others – the picture scolded.

Dostoevsky did not accept its "average in one" and "abusive" household prisiminti: "Contemplate carefully, this is an ordinary quarrel very ordinary people, where and what the subsequent 18 centuries of Christianity? – puzzled by Dostoevsky. – As to this ordinary strife of ordinary people such as G. GE gathered to dine, there was something so huge?" Tolstoy sought, like Strauss, to free the gospel from the miraculous and the supernatural, by contrast, took a picture almost enthusiastically, he admitted that "a strange thing happened: my own view about the last supper of Christ with his disciples coincided with the fact that handed in their picture Gay".

Another one of the audience's reactions describes Stasov. The exhibition, which first showed the last supper, came to count Stroganov, a well-known philanthropist. He stared at the picture with a terrible anger and finally asked: "How old is this artist?!" "Something about thirty"– replied. "A dangerous man!" – powerful said Stroganov. Undetected "Italian" Nicholas gay stood at this time in the crowd and decided not to discover. And after a couple of years Stroganov will appear in the GE workshop in Florence and will persuade him: "Make for me a copy of your amazing pictures!.."

Why in the Tretyakov gallery there is no original "last supper" GE?

Because the original is housed in the Mikhailovsky Palace is now a branch of the Russian Museum: painting GE really liked Alexander II and he bought it, paying 10 thousand silver rubles. Pavel Tretyakovsaw a picture of the exhibition in the 2nd Antique hall of the Academy of arts, was terribly sorry that he could not get "the last supper" for his gallery. He wrote Ivan Kramskoi in February, 1881: "Of the total exhibited in the Academy, vividly stands out and reigns (in addition to sketches Ivanov) picture of the GE. It is a pity that she is in the Academy – there's her place! Wonderful picture!"

Much later (and very intricate the way!) The Tretyakov gallery will get author's repetition "The last supper". It is significantly smaller than the original size and GE were written not for the gallery, and entrepreneur-collector Kozma Soldatenkovunlike Tretyakov, always traded with the artists and knocks the price of, textile manufacturer Soldatenkov money for art is not spared. His generosity was so well known that after the Manifesto abolishing serfdom in 1861, the year many farmers had no doubt: this is not the king they were released, and just bigger than life Kuzma Terentyevich soldatyonkov was bought and let loose. When in 1901, the year he died, the painting was transferred to the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow, the first public collection of books, coins, manuscripts and works of art. Under Soviet rule in 1924, the year it was disbanded: foreign painting went to Pushkin, a Russian, and with it the author's copy of "the last supper" GE in the Tretyakov gallery.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1883

Size: 283×382 cm

Artwork in selections: 24 selections

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