Christ and the Adulteress (Who Is Without Sin?)
As a young artist influenced by Alexander Ivanov, Vasily Polenov had the idea of “creating not Christ coming, but Christ already come into the world, making his way among the people.” This germ grew during his periods of study at the Imperial Academy of Arts and then abroad, where the first sketches were made in 1873 and 1876. In order to create an historically authentic setting, Polenov travelled across Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Greece in 1881 and 1882 and spent the winter of 1883/84 in Rome, creating many portraits and architectural and landscape studies. The artist first executed a charcoal drawing on canvas the size of the future work at his estate near Podolsk in 1885, before painting the actual picture at Savva Mamontov’s Moscow house in 1886 and 1887. The painting was first shown at the fifteenth Travelling Art Exhibition in 1887.