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15 must-see paintings by Henryk Siemiradzki


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

Henryk Siemiradzki/Belarusian National Arts Museum

2. Christ and the Sinner. 1873

Henryk Siemiradzki/The State Russian Museum

3. The Sword Dance. 1881

Henryk Siemiradzki/Tretyakov Gallery

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

Henryk Siemiradzki/Tretyakov Gallery

5. Song of the Slave. 1884

Henryk Siemiradzki/The Serpukhov History and Art Museum

6. Following the Example of the Gods. 1888

Henryk Siemiradzki/National Gallery of Armenia

7. Portrait of a Young Roman Woman. 1889

Henryk Siemiradzki/Private collection

8. Phryne at the Poseidonia in Eleusis. 1889

Henryk Siemiradzki/The State Russian Museum

9. A Dangerous Lesson. Circa 1895

Henryk Siemiradzki/Pereslavl Zalessky museum reserve

10. The Funeral of Ruz in Bulgar. 1884

Henryk Siemiradzki/The State Historical Museum

11. Rome. Village. Circa 1899

Henryk Siemiradzki/The Vrubel Museum of Fine Arts, Omsk

12. Christ with Martha and Maria. 1886

Henryk Siemiradzki/The State Russian Museum

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

Henryk Siemiradzki/The State Russian Museum

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

Henryk Siemiradzki/National Museum, Krakow

15. Socrates Finds His Student Alcibiades at Hetaera. 1873

Henryk Siemiradzki/Stavropol Regional Museum of Fine Arts

“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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