“Secret Vespers”, Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge – overview of the painting

“Secret Vespers”, Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge – overview of the painting
"Secret Vespers", Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Nikolay Nikolaevich Ge
  • Museum: Russian Museum
  • Year: 1883

Overview of the painting :

Last Supper – Nikolay Nikolaevich Ge. Oil on canvas. 283 x 382 cm

   This picture became a real breakthrough in painting on biblical stories and brought glory to its creator. At the same time, it gave rise to many disputes and became an object of rejection by traditional religious organizations, who were of the opinion that it was necessary to preserve the canon in such painting.

   The painting was written in Italy during the artist’s retirement trip. After his return to his homeland, the canvas was exhibited at the Academic Exhibition. It made a splash because of an extraordinary approach to the image of a well-known plot from the Bible – a secret supper on the eve of the arrest and execution of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, this event is portrayed as a solemn feast, and in the picture of Ghe it is a more chamber, simple and modest event, although one cannot deny its powerful emotional impact.

   It was this image style of such an important event that caused a storm of emotions. Before Ge, no one tried to convey history as something everyday, understandable, simple. Basically, all the events that took place in real history, coming from myths or religious written monuments, were portrayed solemnly, magnificent, even overly decorated, with the introduction of modern realities to the author in older events.

   The painting of Ge is their exact opposite. A modest, dark room full of people appears before the viewer. The main character – Jesus Christ – lies on a low bed with a roller, next to him is the kneeling John, his youngest disciple, and on the other hand, the apostle Peter. The rest of the apostles crowded behind Christ.

   In the foreground, the canvas in the corner is a dark silhouette. This is a figure of Judas Iscariot, to whom Christ said that he knew about his betrayal. Alarmed disciples did not understand allegiance, but Judas knew exactly what was at stake. For Ge, he was not a simple traitor who sold his teacher for money. This is an ideological rival, a man who did not accept the truth of the teachings of Christ.