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Repin, Ilya Yefimovich

REPIN, ILYA YEFIMOVICH

(18441930), Russia's most celebrated realist painter.

The future master of realism, whose genius with the canvas put him on par with the literary and musical luminaries of Russia's nineteenth century, Ilya Yefimovich Repin arose from truly inauspicious surroundings. His father, a peasant, was a military colonist in the Ukrainian (then, "Little Russia") town of Chuguev. His talent manifested itself early, and at age twenty, he entered St. Petersburg's Academy of Arts. His first major piece, The Raising of Jarius's Daughter, won him the gold medal in academic competition, and with it, a scholarship to study in France and Italy. Although the Impressionists at that time were beginning their critical reappraisal of representation, Repin remained a realist, although his use of light shows that he did not escape the influence of the new style. Upon his return to Russia, he developed a nationalist strain in his paintings that reflected the political mood of his era. In this work, he connected the realism of style with that of politics, bringing his viewers' attentions to the arduous circumstances under which so many of their fellow citizens labored, reflected in his first major work beyond the Academy, Barge Haulers on the Volga.

Although Repin was never specifically a political activist, he was nonetheless involved with other artists in challenging the conservative, autocratic status quo. For example, he joined with other painters who, calling themselves the peredvizhniki, or "itinerants," revolted against the system of patronage in the arts and circulated their works throughout the provinces, bringing art to the emergent middle classes. Moreover, they chose compositions that depicted their surroundings, as opposed to the staid classicism of mythology; Repin shifted from Jarius's Daughter to Russian legends, exemplified by several versions of Sadko, a popular figure from medieval, merchant Novgorod. More impressive, though, were those among his works that evoked the reality of all aspects of contemporary life, from the revolutionary movement to Russia's colonial enterprise, from The Student-Nihilist to The Zaporozhian Cossacks.

Repin also excelled as a portrait painter because he was able to communicate the psychology of his subjects. For example, his portrait of the tortured Modest Mussorgsky stuns with its ability to bring out varied aspects of the composer's personality. Repin's oeuvre includes portraits of most prominent liberals of his era, from Leo Tolstoy to Savva Mamantov, as well as the archconservative Konstantin Pobedonostsev. His paintings of historical figures, Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan and Tsarevna Sophia Alexeevna in the Novodevichy Convent, likewise stand out for their capacity to evoke the emotional.

Repin returned to the Academy of Arts in 1894, directing a studio there until 1907 and serving briefly as director (18981899). In 1900 he moved to an estate in the Finnish village of Kuokalla, outside of St. Petersburg, where a constant stream of visitors engendered a famously stimulating atmosphere. When Finland received its independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, Repin chose to remain there. The reacquisition of Kuokalla by the Soviet army in 1939 resulted in the renaming of the village to "Repino," a museum to the artist.

See also: academy of arts; nationalism in the arts

bibliography

Parker, Fan and Parker, Stephen Jan. (1980). Russia on Canvas: Ilya Repin. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Sternin, Grigorii Iurevich, comp. (1987). Ilya Repin. Leningrad: Aurora Publishers, 1987.

Valkenier, Elizabeth Kridl. (1990). Ilya Repin and the World of Russian Art. New York: Columbia University Press.

Louise McReynolds

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"Repin, Ilya Yefimovich." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Repin, Ilya Yefimovich

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (ēlyä´ yĬfē´məvĬch ryĕ´pĬn), 1844–1930, Russian historical and genre painter and sculptor. He studied in St. Petersburg and abroad and became the foremost representative of the realistic style in Russia. In his Volga Boatmen, The Arrest of a Political Offender, and The Terrorists Repin expressed criticism of the social order. His large historical paintings, e.g., Ivan the Terrible and The Cossacks Drafting a Letter to the Sultan, are his best-known works. Most of his pictures are in the museums of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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"Repin, Ilya Yefimovich." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Repin, Ilya Yefimovich." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/repin-ilya-yefimovich

"Repin, Ilya Yefimovich." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/repin-ilya-yefimovich