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GREAT RUSSIAN ART - 'Burning the Christians' (Genrikh Semiradsky, 1876)

So rich in all the arts, Russia produced a treasure of great painting, mostly in the 2nd half of the 19th century, but also, significantly, since the end of Communism. On Sunday mornings we are pleased to bring you the excellent Great Russian Christian Art series from Russian Faith, a site about the extraordinary Christian renaissance in Russia, manifested through the rebirth of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Russian Faith has selected works with Christian themes, but all of these artists created magnificent secular works too, and they are popular and well-known to the Russian public. These paintings give great insight into Russian history, culture, religion and psychology and are huge fun to view. Enjoy.


From Russian Faith:

As we work our way through an enormous cache of fascinating Russian Christian paintings, we can't help but fall in love with some of them.

About The Series:

As we learned about Russia's traditional faith, Russian Orthodox Christianity, we discovered an enormous, mostly forgotten treasure of striking Christian paintings, mostly unknown in the West, starting from approximately the early 1800s, and continuing to this day.

So far we have cataloged over 150 images, and are discovering more all the time. We will gradually be getting them all online.

'Burning of christians' (Nero's Torches)- a picture by the Russian painter Genrikh Semiradsky. Creation time 1874-1876. 'Burning of christians' is an oil painting on canvas, measuring 152″ × 278″

Link to high resolution image.

It depicts a group of early Christian martyrs who are about to be burned alive as the alleged perpetrators of the Great Fire of Rome, during the reign of emperor Nero in 64 AD. People from many different social spheres, including the emperor himself, are present to watch the burning, which takes place in front of the Domus Aurea. The motif is based on the descriptions by Suetonius and Tacitus.

The painting was first exhibited in 1876 at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. It went on to tour Europe with stops in Vienna, Munich, Prague, Lviv, Berlin, Saint Petersburg, Poznań, Paris and London. It was met with critical acclaim by masters of academic art such as Hans Makart and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. It has been the target of criticism over Semiradsky's handling of exterior human beauty by painter and controversial art theoretician Stanisław Witkiewicz opposed to historical realism in general, and the monumental art of Jan Matejko in particular.

Genrikh Semiradsky donated his Nero's Torches to the recently initiated National Museum in Kraków in 1879 during Józef Ignacy Kraszewski’s anniversary celebrations. With his grant, Semiradsky inaugurated the national collection.

Details:

Genrikh Semiradsky (24 October 1843 – 23 August 1902) was a Polish Rome-based painter, best remembered for his monumental Academic art. He was particularly known for his depictions of scenes from the ancient Greek-Roman world and the New Testament, owned by many national galleries of Europe. 

Many of his paintings depict scenes from antiquity, often the sunlit pastoral scenes or compositions presenting the lives of early Christians. He also painted biblical and historical scenes, landscapes, and portraits. His best-known works include monumental curtains for the Lviv (Lwów) Theatre of Opera and for the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków.


More about the Great Russian Christian Art series:

Russia has a wonderfully rich heritage of Christian and Bible-themed painting which reached its zenith in the second half of the 19th century, as part of the realist school. Many of the canvases are enormous, filling an entire wall of a large public hall. Some of them took decades to complete. They are a striking and beautiful testimony to how deeply ingrained Christianity is in Russian history, culture, philosophy, thought, indeed, in her very soul. They are a delight to behold.

As Russia emerges as a leader in the return to traditionalism, this style of painting is again in vogue, and there are also several contemporary Christian painters creating extraordinary canvases. Indeed, Moscow has an excellent art academy dedicated to this style, a topic we covered in the profile of Ilya Glazunov, a leading, recently deceased painter in this genre.  See: A Conservative Russian Lion With Real Mass Influence – The Painter Ilya Glazunov

Many of these paintings and artists are hardly known in the West, dismissed by the secular, atheist, globalist modern 'art' vogue. We are delighted to bring you this series, which consists of several dozens of works. You can see all of the works in this series by clicking here.

We think you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

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