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The Last Supper. 1863

Ge Nikolai,
Oil on Ņanvas
283 x 382

State Russian Museum


Nikolai Ge breaks the traditional canons governing the representation of the Last Supper in his painting. He treats the event as a psychological drama, arising out of a conflict that has split a group of former confederates. The figurative resolution is based on the battle of light and dark, symbolizing truth and falsehood, concentrated in the figures of Jesus and Judas Iscariot. The poignant theme, innovative composition, broad manner of painting and courageous chiaroscuro contrasts caught the attention of contemporaries and evoked heated debate.

Author's Biography

Ge Nikolai

Ge, Nikolai Nikoiaevich
1831, Voronezh - 1894, Ivanovskoe (Chernihiv Province)
Painter, draughtsman, history and religious painter, portraitist, landscapist. Studied mathematics at Kiev University (1847-48) and St Petersburg University (1848- 50). Studied under Pyotr Basin at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1850-57) and influenced by Karl Brullov and Alexander Ivanov. Fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Rome and Florence (1857-63). Lived in Florence (until 1869). Professor (1863; resigned 1869). Founding member of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1871). Influenced by Leo Tolstoy (i88os). Lived in Kiev and St Petersburg, moved to Ivanovskoe in Chernihiv Province (1876). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (from 1857), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1871-94), Exposition Universelle in Paris (1867) and the International Exhibitions in Munich (1869) and London (1873). One-man show at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1870).

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