15 must-see paintings by Henryk Siemiradzki (PICS)

Henryk Siemiradzki/The State Russian Museum
This Russian artist found inspiration in ancient Rome and its landscapes, creating idealistic images for well known myths, legends and historical events.

Russian artists of the second half of the 19th century often reflected on the life of ordinary people and showed realistic images from their contemporaries. But not Henryk Siemiradzki (1843-1902). He followed the established canons of academic art, and was extraordinarily successful at it. His paintings show plots from Antiquity and mythology, as well as paragons of fine behavior, and early Christian and Biblical motifs.

Born in the Kharkov Region (then part of the Russian Empire) into a family with Polish roots, Siemiradzki studied at the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Art but spent most of his life in Rome. Thus, it’s no surprise that the fascinating landscapes of the Eternal City were reflected in his art. 

Here are some of his finest paintings, including a sketch for a fresco that was in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, but which unfortunately was destroyed when the Soviet authorities demolished the church in 1931.  

1. Alexander the Great Trusts Doctor Philip. 1870

2. Christ and the Sinner. 1873

3. The Sword Dance. 1881

4. Orgy of the Times of Tiberius on Capri. 1881

5. Song of the Slave. 1884

6. Following the Example of the Gods. 1888

7. Portrait of a Young Roman Woman. 1889

8. Phryne at the Poseidonia in Eleusis. 1889

9. A Dangerous Lesson. Circa 1895

10. The Funeral of Ruz in Bulgar. 1884

11. Rome. Village. Circa 1899

12. Christ with Martha and Maria. 1886

13. Last Supper. 1878. (Sketch for the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow)

14. Candlesticks of Christianity (Nero's Torches). 1876

15. Socrates Finds His Student Alcibiades at Hetaera. 1873

“Following the Example of the Gods”, an exhibition of Henryk Siemiradzki’s paintings is on display in State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow until July 3, 2022

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