1831 C 13 June [O.S. 1 June] 1894) was a Russian realist painter famous for his works on historical and religious motifs.
Nikolai Ge was born in Voronezh to a Russian noble family of French origin. His grandfather emigrated to Russia in the 18th century. His parents died when he was still a child, so Nikolai was raised by his serf nurse. He graduated from the First Kiev Gymnasium and studied at the physics-mathematics department of Kiev University and Saint Petersburg University.
In 1850 he gave up his career in science and entered the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. He studied in academy under the historical painter Pyotr Basin until 1857. He graduated from the academy in 1857 with a gold medal for his painting The Witch of Endor Calling Up the Spirit of the Prophet Samuel. According to Ge himself, during that period he was strongly influenced by Karl Brullov.
His gold medal provided him a scholarship for studying abroad . He visited Germany, Switzerland, France and in 1860 settled in Italy. In Rome he met Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov who strongly influenced Ge. In 1861 Ge painted The Last Supper; in 1863 he took the painting with him to Saint Petersburg. Ge found his own interpretation of the classical subject ?? he emphasized the motif of discord among those who had formerly shared the same views. The painting (bought by Tsar Alexander II of Russia) made so strong impression that Ge was made a professor of Imperial Academy of Arts.
In 1864 he returned to Florence where he became a friend of a major Russian pro-Western writer and thinker Alexander Herzen and painted his portrait. The same year he also painted Messengers of the Resurrection and the first version of the Christ on the Mount of Olives.