Vasilii Dmitriviech Polenov (Russian, St. Petersburg 1844–1927 Polenovo)
Oil on canvas
9 1/2 x 17 in. (24.1 x 43.2 cm)
Gift of Humanities Fund Inc., 1972
Not on view
Inscription: Dated (lower left): 1884
Boris A. Bakhmeteff, New York (probably 1930s or earlier–d. 1951); Humanities Fund Inc., New York (1951–72; gift to MMA)
St. Petersburg. location unknown. "Fifteenth Exhibition of the Peredvizhniki," February 25–March 29, 1887 [possibly shown with other studies and the final painting].
Moscow. location unknown. "Fifteenth Exhibition of the Peredvizhniki," April–?, 1887 [possibly shown with other studies and the final painting; exhibition travelled to Kharkov, Odessa, Yelisavetgrad, and Kiev].
Vitale Manin. Letter. received March 8, 1977, notes that it is an important study for the painting "Christ and the Adulteress" (Russian Museum, St. Petersburg).
This is one of numerous studies for the large painting owned by the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg (1887, 325 x 611 cm). The final picture, which took over fourteen years to complete, was shown in the Fifteenth Exhibition of the Itinerant Artists in St. Petersburg, 1887. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow owns several oil and pencil studies. A later version of the composition (1907) is in the collection of the Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.
Polenov traveled to Palestine in the 1880s and produced many sketches for the final painting, in which he hoped to portray Christ as a realistic, historical figure [see Walther K. Lang, "The 'Atheism' of Jesus in Russian Art: Representations of Christ by Ivan Kramskoy, Vasily Polenov, and Nikolai Ghe," www.19thc-artworldwide.org, Autumn 2003].