Christ and the Samaritan (1890)

Henryk Siemiradzki (1843 -1902)

Art facts:

  • Artist: Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki
  • Currently, аt Lviv National Art Gallery
  • Original size: 40” х 72” inches
  • This work is linked to John 4:5-42


About the Аrtist:

            Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki was born October 24, 1843, in Ukraine near the city of Kharkiv and died August 23, 1902, in Strzałków, Łódź Voivodeship, Poland. Henryk Siemiradzki was a Polish painter based in Rome, best remembered for his monumental academic art. He was mainly known for his depictions of scenes from the ancient Greek-Roman world and the New Testament – owned by many national European galleries. Many of his paintings depict scenes from antiquity, often the sunlit pastoral scenes or compositions presenting early Christians’ lives. He also painted biblical and historical scenes, landscapes, and portraits. Siemiradzki produced works distinguished by masterful composition and line, a light palette, and meticulous rendering of sunlight.

            Siemiradzki’s father was Hipolit Siemiradzki, a Polish noble and an officer of the Imperial Russian Army (made general in 1871) and his mother, Michalina. He studied at Kharkiv Gymnasium, where he first learned painting under the local schoolteacher, D.I. Besperchy, a former student of Karl Briullov. He entered the physics-mathematics school of Kharkiv University and studied natural sciences there with great interest and continued to paint.

After graduating from university with a Kandidat degree, he abandoned his scientific career and moved to Saint Petersburg to study painting at the Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1864 to 1870. Upon his graduation, Siemiradzki was awarded a gold medal. In 1870–1871 he studied under Karl von Piloty in Munich on a grant from the Academy. In 1872 he moved to Rome and later built a studio there on Via Gaeta, Rome.

            Siemiradzki considered himself a Pole throughout his entire life. He remained indifferent to the Russian press and critics that tried to attribute Russian nationality to him at his most significant artistic successes. His works are still exhibited in the national art sections of some museums in Russia and Ukraine.

About the painting:

            The Image depicts Christ paused to rest at Jacob’s Well, a holy site for both Samaritans and Jews. There he requested a drink of water from a Samaritan woman. Though she was initially surprised, since Jews and Samaritans were traditional enemies, she became increasingly intrigued by the knowledgeable and all-seeing visitor as they talked. Believing him to be a prophet, she spoke of looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. “I am he, the one who is speaking to you,” Jesus replied.