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Temptation of Christ

Popularization note

In his works, based on the traditional artistic technique, Jan Wydra often referred to religious scenes. He painted Christmas and Crucifixion scenes and depicted Christ in evangelical settings. He chose various compositional solutions and reached for different stylistic and artistic sources.

Kuszenie [Temptation] occupies a special place among extended, narrative compositions. The painting is characterised by radical simplification and minimisation of means of expression. The space, limited by an interior with an open red curtain, resembles the scene of a theatrical performance involving two actors, Christ and the tempting devil. The mutual relation of gestures and glances determines the dynamics of persuasion and anticipation. At the same time, the consequences of the figural scene take place in spatial relations; the elongated slender shadow on the curtain, cast by Christ's silhouette clearly illuminated by external light, becomes equally telling. Thus, the artist refers to a distant iconographic tradition, making significant transformations at the same time. Wydra consciously borrows the simple language of forms from the distant models of the Italian quattrocento and the lessons of Flemish painting, situating the scene among theatrical props.

The placement of the scene is intriguing. Instead of the desert landscape familiar from the Gospels, the painter locates the performance among theatrical backdrops, problematising the unambiguous biblical message. The dialogue, filled with gestures of the characters, acquires an ambiguous explanation. It is the figure of Satan that emerges from the outer radiance, which at the same time becomes the source of Christ's monumentally cast shadow, binding the two figures into a single whole. Could it be, then, that the message of good comes from the synthesis and assimilation of absolute evil? The painting in a way foreshadows the moral conflicts filling the history of the 20th century.

Bożena Kasperowicz

Information about the object

Information about this object

Author / creator

Wydra, Jan (1902-1937) (painter)


cały obiekt: height: 67 cm, width: 100 cm

Object type



oil technique


canvas, oil-based paint

Creation time / dating


Creation / finding place

powstanie: Poland (Europe)


The National Museum in Lublin

Identification number


Location / status

object is not displayed now

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