Ilya Repin



Ilya Yefimovich Repin (Russian: Илья Ефимович Репин; ; Finnish: Ilja Jefimovitš Repin; Ukrainian: Ілля Юхимович Рєпін, romanized: Illia Yukhymovych Riepin; 5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Russian realist painter. He was one of the most renowned Russian artists of the 19th century, when his position in the world of art was comparable to that of Leo Tolstoy in literature. His major works include Barge Haulers on the Volga (1873), Religious Procession in Kursk Province (1880-1883), Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan (1885); and Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks (1880–1891). He is also known for the revealing portraits he made of the leading Russian literary and artistic figures of his time, including Mikhail Glinka, Modest Mussorgsky and especially Leo Tolstoi, with whom he had a long friendship.

Repin was born in Chuguyev, in Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire (now Chuhuiv in Ukraine, Kharkiv Region) into a family of Russian "military settlers". His father, a retired soldier, sold horses. He began painting icons at age sixteen. He failed at his first effort to enter the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, but went to the city anyway, audited courses, and won his first prizes in 1869 and 1871. In October 1876 he began to show his work at the exhibitions of the leading new Russian artistic movement, The Wanderers. In 1872, after a tour along the Volga River, he presented his drawings at the Academy of Art in St. Petersburg. The Grand Duke Alexander Aelexadorvich awarded him a commission for a large scale painting, The Barge Haulers of the Volga, which launched his career. He spent two years in Paris and Normandy, seeing the first Impressionist expositions and learning the techniques of painting in the open air.

He suffered one setback in 1885 when his history portrait of Ivan the Terrible killing his own son in a rage caused a scandal, resulting in the painting being removed from exhibition. But this was followed by a series of major successes and new commissions. In 1898, with his second wife, he purchased a country house, The Penates, in Kuokkala, Finland (now Repino, Saint Petersburg), close to St. Petersburg, where they entertained Russian society.

In 1905, following the violent repression of street demonstrations by the Czarist government, he quit his teaching position at the Academy of Fine Arts. He welcomed the February Revolution in 1917, but was appalled by the violence and warfare that followed in the October Revolution. Finland broke away from Russia in 1917, and Repin was unable to travel to St. Petersburg, even for an exhibition of his own works in 1925. The government of Josef Stalin insisted that Repin give up his Finnish residence and citizenship, and return to the city, but he refused. Repin died on 29, September, 1930, at the age of 86, and was buried at the Penates. His home is now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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