Ilya Repin : Volga Boatmen
Ilya Repin (1844-1930) is a great Russian realist painter, whose vibrant canvases are a skilful portrayal of Russian society of the second half of the 19th century from a democratic point of view. His paintings are striking reflections of the Russian people's struggle for emancipation, their strength, inner richness and beauty, and patriotic aspirations. Exhibited in Room No. 47 is the final version of his splendid The Volga Boatmen. The artist intended his depiction of the incredibly hard and bitter lot of the barge-haulers as a scathing indictment of the Russian people's harsh bondage under autocracy. The barge-haulers stumble along the bank of the Volga in scorching sun. The spiritual richness of the team leader's prototype aroused the artist's admiration. Behind him is a man bowed over, his face filled with hatred for the misery of his bitter lot. In the middle is a young man in a pink shirt whose untanned face—evidently he is a new member of the barge-hauler's team—is screwed up with pain; this youth is the symbol of protest against the trampling of human dignity.
Ilya Repin, Volga Boatmen, Oil on Canvas: