“WISE AND FOOLISH VIRGINS”
A parable from the Chapter 25 of the Gospel According to Matthew tells the story of ten virgins, of whom five were wise and five were foolish. According to an ancient Eastern custom, the bridegroom with his relatives and friends came into the house of the bride, and, as it generally was at night, the bridesmaids, not knowing the exact time of the bridegroom’s arrival, reserved some oil for the lamps and waited for the guests to arrive. When the bridegroom came, the nuptial contract was signed and the wedding feast started.
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps… And while they [the foolish ones] went to buy [the oil], the bridegroom came; and they that were ready [the wise ones] went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut…” (Matthew 25, 1–13).
The series consists of ten sheets. Foolish virgins are depicted with their lamps directed downwards. In the collection of the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum there are two sheets from this series.