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Burlaki on the Volga - Ilya Efimovich Repin. 131.5 x 281 cm
Repin's work of the 1870-1900s was a landmark for contemporaries and became an illustration of this time for posterity. The features of post-reform Russia, the unfulfilled aspirations and hopes of the Russian intelligentsia were reflected in art and literature in the popular topic of social inequality, in criticizing the country's social and political system.
Seen by young Repin (1844-1930) in 1869 barge haulers, who dragged a heavy cargo barge, excited his soul. When leaving the Volga, the artist developed this theme for several years. The sealed oppression of the poor was a call for mercy toward the common man. It is amazing how in a seemingly impersonal hard crowd gray painter revealed the individual traits of each of the barge haulers, endowed them with character, fate, read in the faces exhausted by years of adversity.
Thanks to the contrast introduced by Repin, the string of slaves and the vast expanse of a wide, full-blooded Volga with a white sailboat in the background (unconsciously associated with the viewer with freedom), the master managed to pass a sentence on a modern society that brutally enslaves the powerless.