Ivan Kramskoy was born in 1837 in Ostrogozhsk, Voronezh Governorate, in the Russian Empire. He was born to a lower class family and did not begin painting until he was fifteen. At fifteen, he became an apprentice to a painter. In 1857, after he discovered his love for art, he got the opportunity to study at the Academy of Arts, in St. Petersburg. In 1863, Kramskoy went to St. Petersburg to be a part of the Team of Artists. This was a group that lived together and shared their works with one another. During his time in this household, he also taught at the School of the Society for Promoting of the Artists.
Kramskoy was famous for his portraits and often got commissioned for them. Russian society felt that his portraits captured the Russian history and culture of that time. After Kramskoy traveled around Europe, he created the Itinerants’ Society of Traveling Exhibitions. Kramskoy’s purpose of this society was to educate Russians with contemporary art, culminate a love for art in Russian society, and stimulate the economy for artists. One of Kramskoy’s most famous works is Christ in the Wilderness. He painted this masterpiece in 1872. The clarity of Kramskoy’s portraits brings realism to the subject, shedding light on Russian society. Kramskoy died at the easel in 1887.