Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi came from an impoverished middle-class family. At the age of twenty from 1857 to 1863, he studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts but was not happy with the Academic Art teachings of the Academy. In rebellion against the Academy's annual competition, Kramskoi organized and was the leader of the "Revolt of Fourteen", a group of students who refused to paint a final exam painting on the given topic and this ended with the expulsion from the Academy of fourteen graduates, who organized the their own Artel of Artists show.
Influenced by the thoughts of the Russian progressive Democrats, Ivan Kramskoi asserted the obligation of the artist by painting realistically the moral substance and nationality of Russia and its people. He became one of the main founders and ideologists of the Company of Itinerant Art Exhibitions. From 1863 to 1868 he taught at the drawing school of a society for the advancement of the applied arts. Ivan Kramskoi created a gallery of portraits of important Russian writers, scientists, artists and public figures such as Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy, Ivan Shishkin, Ilya Repin, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin and Sergei Botkin, painted with a simplicity of composition and clarity to bring out the emphasis on the psychological character of the sitter. Kramskoi's democratic ideals found their brightest expression in his portraits of peasants, which portrayed plenty of character details in representatives of the common people.
One of Ivan Kramskoi’s most notable paintings, Christ in the Desert Wilderness, he continued the Neoclassical artist Alexander Ivanov's humanistic tradition by treating a religious subject in moral philosophical terms. He imbued his image of Christ with a sad look and in contemplative thought, with his idea of his heroic self-sacrifice that was to come.
Trying to grow the ideological expressiveness of his pictures, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi created art that existed on the cusp of portraiture and genre-painting. These works of art uncover their subjects' intricate and genuine feelings, their identities and destinies. The democratic orientation of Kramskoi’s oil paintings, his acute critical judgments about it, and his tireless mission for non-biased public criteria for the evaluation of art exerted an influence on the development of democratic art in Russia in from 1865 onward. nineteenth century.
Art Movement: Realism.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.