What is the truth? - Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge. 233 x 171 cm
The painting, written by Nicholas Ge on a well-known biblical story, aroused a lot of emotions, both positive and negative, among the audience and critics. This is due to the fact that the images on the canvas, and the interpretation of the plot itself, and even the artistic features - everything was innovative and extraordinary.
Broad-minded people accepted the picture and praised it highly, but representatives of the supreme church authority, people who were stagnant and striving to adhere to the centuries-old canon, remained extremely dissatisfied, even outraged by the artist’s insolence and free-thinking. At the same time, some of his colleagues in art also did not understand the novelty and innovation of Ge's work.
Although the plot of the picture was used repeatedly, until Ge no one interpreted the biblical scene in this way. On his canvas there are only two figures - these are Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea. The picture depicts the moment of the interrogation of Christ by Pilate, after which he recognized Jesus not guilty. Everything seems to be as usual, but the interpretation is completely unusual.
The figure of Christ is shaded, while bright sunbeams fall on Pilate. A man who condemned the God-man to death, is elaborately and strikingly dressed, has a large expressive figure, and besides, he is located in the foreground. Moreover, Christ is thin, ugly, dressed modestly, if not poorly. This is a real slap in the face of traditional art, because the classic images of Jesus treated him as a handsome young man with thin features, long well-groomed curls, dressed in clean white clothes.
It is not surprising that such a picture provoked the displeasure of the traditionalists from art and religion. Even Tretyakov, who bought a painting for his gallery, did not want to do this, but acquired the painting only after the angry letter of Leo Tolstoy. Thanks to this, an innovative painting has survived to the present day, which cannot be said about “Mercy”, on top of which it was painted.