Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge, an artist of great and original talent, studied at the Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1850 to 1857, where he was strongly influenced by the work of K.P. Brullov. (He became a member of the Academy in 1863.) On a scholarship from the Academy, Ge lived in Italy for twelve years (1857-1869). There he became closely founding member and a constant participant in their exhibitions, where his works represented a new style of Russian history painting and portraiture. Ge's friendship with L. N. Tolstoy caused him to follow the religious, philosophical teachings of this great writer. From 1876, Ge lived on a homestead in the Ukraine, farming and practicing Tolstoy's call for simple living. During this time, Ge attempted to paint scenes from the gospels and tried, like Tolstoy, to create his own "gospels" with paints. When shown in exhibitions, these paintings both provoked heated debates and arguments, and won Ge a measure of authority and recognition.