“Herodias”, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskaya – overview of the painting

“Herodias”, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskaya – overview of the painting
"Herodias", Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskaya - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskaya
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1886

Overview of the painting :

Irodiad – Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskaya. Oil on canvas. 142 x 118

   Biblical themes in Kramsky’s work are distinguished by insight, psychology and philosophy. It is enough to recall the tired and humble look of Jesus, which is the emotional center, the canvas “Christ in the desert.”.

   The presented work was completed in 1886, shortly before the death of the painter. The plot of the picture was a famous story from the New Testament. Herodias, the daughter of Herod, ordered her to bring the head of John the Baptist. Anger against John was not groundless, because he sharply condemned her marriage with her uncle, reproaching for profligacy. Herodias found a way to take revenge.

   And on the dish in front of the heroine is the head of the Baptist. A woman looks at her terrifying trophy with some triumph. The author will not skimp, portraying Herodias – white leather, lush curls, taken under a silver hoop, and a delightful outfit. Heroin’s dress seems to be transparent, it seems that you can see her skin. Libertine delights with her beauty, but this beauty is cold, tough, stubborn. One can only wonder how Kramsky managed to convey these conflicting halftones.

   The unfortunate person was covered with a scarf, but Herodias casually turned him away so that the viewer would see the one who condemned her love. The subtle correct features of John’s face also speak of beauty, but now this beauty is already mournful and majestic.

   The author masterfully used colors in the picture – the background is darkened to bring the heroes to the fore. Red color is not only accent in terms of palette, but also in a metaphysical sense. Here, in the name of the whim of a prodigal woman, innocent blood spilled.

   We see the aggressive red carpet in the shoes of Herodias, in the image of a carpet and in the form of a background spot, at the woman’s elbow. It is no coincidence that the flashes of red fall on the woman’s skirt – she tarnished herself with a deadly sin, destroying an innocent person …