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].