Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi: Christ in the Desert (1872)

(Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia)

This is one of Kramskoi’s most well known paintings. The subject of the painting is the period that Christ stayed in the desert as written in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to these texts, after being baptized, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the Judaean Desert. During this time, Satan appeared to Jesus and tempted him. Jesus having refused each temptation, Satan departed and angels came and brought nourishment to Jesus. Kramskoi depicts Chirst in a very humble way. There is nothing festive, heroic or victorious in the painting. We see Christ in a pauper appearance, completely alone, reflecting his fasting as if he is in a mind struggle. A very powerfull painting from 1872.