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Ilya Repin

Biography and Early Life: – Ilya Repin was born on 24 July 1844 in Chuguev, Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire. – His father, Yefim Vasilyevich Repin, […]

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Biography and Early Life:
– Ilya Repin was born on 24 July 1844 in Chuguev, Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire.
– His father, Yefim Vasilyevich Repin, served in the Russian Army, and his mother, Tatiana Stepanovna Repina, had ties to noblemen and officers.
– Repin enrolled in an art workshop at age 13 and joined the Society for the Encouragement of Artists.
– He married Vera Alexeievna Shevtsova in 1872.
– Repin started painting icons at age 16 and competed for admission to the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1863.
– He met painter Ivan Kramskoi at the academy and was awarded a gold medal second-class for painting in 1869.

Artistic Career and Style:
– Repin joined the Wanderers, a group of Russian realist artists, and his works featured realistic figures with vivid personalities.
– He experimented with outdoor sunlight effects influenced by impressionists and created major historical works like ‘Religious Procession in Kursk Governorate.’
– Repin’s controversial painting ‘Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan’ depicted the tsar’s horror.
– His artistry had a significant impact on Russian art and society, praised for capturing peasant life authentically and reflecting the spirit of the period in his portraits.
– Repin’s portraits of Russian composers, including Moussorgsky and Glinka, became integral to their public image.

Relationship with Tolstoy and Professional Engagements:
– Repin had a 30-year friendship with Tolstoy, painting several portraits of the author and discussing philosophy and morals.
– He painted portraits of notable figures, including a famous historical work ‘Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks,’ known for its expressive faces of various nationalities.
– Repin was commissioned to create a new statute for the Academy of Arts, held a one-man exhibition in Moscow, and taught at the Higher Art School until 1907, studying teaching methods in various European cities.

Personal Life and Later Years:
– Repin separated from his wife in 1887 and met Natalia Nordman in 1890, building a country house in Finland.
– He was disillusioned by the repression of demonstrations in 1905, resigned from his teaching post, and focused on painting.
– Repin criticized modernist art, participated in protests against Tsarist repression, and depicted these events in his paintings.
– The outbreak of World War I in 1914 brought setbacks, and Repin’s wife died of tuberculosis in Switzerland.
– He was hostile towards the Bolsheviks, donated his works to the Finnish National Gallery, and painted notable Finnish leaders and artists in Finland.

Portraits, Drawings, and Genre Painting:
– Repin painted over 300 portraits, including political figures, writers, and composers, using new techniques and content to enhance his subjects.
– He made numerous preliminary sketches for his paintings, starting with sketches in pencil or charcoal and using drawings of his children for experimentation.
– Repin excelled in genre painting, portraying daily life scenes with distinct purpose and personality for each character.
– He had a deep sense of purpose in his aesthetics and captured the spirit of the age in his portraits and genre paintings.
– Repin’s connection to Ukraine, where he visited for inspiration, painted traditional scenes, and contributed to creating a monument for Taras Shevchenko, showcases his diverse artistic influences.

Ilya Repin (Wikipedia)

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Russian painter born on the territory that is now a part of modern Ukraine. He became one of the most renowned artists in Russia in the 19th century. 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, Pavel Tretyakov, and especially Leo Tolstoy, with whom he had a long friendship.

Ilya Repin
Илья Репин
Self-portrait (1887), Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Born5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844
Died29 September 1930(1930-09-29) (aged 86)
Alma materImperial Academy of Arts
Known forPainting
Notable workBarge Haulers on the Volga (1870–1873)
Religious Procession in Kursk Province (1880–1883)
Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks (1880–1891)
AwardsBig Gold Medal of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1871) Gold Medal of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1871)
Legion of Honour (1901)
Patron(s)Pavel Tretyakov

Repin was born in Chuguev, in Kharkov Governorate of the Russian Empire. His father had served in an Uhlan Regiment in the Russian army, and then sold horses. Repin 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 in 1863, audited courses, and won his first prizes in 1869 and 1871. 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 Alexandrovich 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 repression of street demonstrations by the Imperial 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 terror unleashed by the Bolsheviks following the October Revolution. In 1917, Russia lost control over the Grand Duchy of Finland, leading to the full independence of Finland. Following this event, Ilya Repin was unable to travel to St. Petersburg (renamed Leningrad), even for an exhibition of his own works in 1925. 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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