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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Repin, Ilya


On a Turf Bench
1876
oil on canvas
36 x 56 cm
The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844 - 1930) was a leading Russian painter and sculptor of the Peredvizhniki artistic school. An important part of his work is dedicated to his native country, Ukraine. His realistic works often expressed great psychological depth and exposed the tensions within the existing social order. Beginning in the late 1920s, detailed works on him were published in the Soviet Union, where a Repin cult developed about a decade later. He was held up as a model "progressive" and "realist" to be imitated by "Socialist Realist" artists in the USSR.

Repin was born in the heart of the historical region called Sloboda Ukraine. His parents were Russian military settlers. In 1866, after apprenticeship with a local icon painter and preliminary study of portrait painting, he went to Saint Petersburg and was shortly admitted to the Imperial Academy of Arts as a student. From 1873 to 1876 on the Academy's allowance, Repin sojourned in Italy and lived in Paris, where he was exposed to French Impressionist painting, which had a lasting effect upon his use of light and color. His style was to remain closer to that of the old European masters, especially Rembrandt, and he never embraced Impressionism.

Many of the subjects Repin painted were common people, like himself, although he did on many occasions paint the Russian elite, intelligentsia, and Tsar Nicholas II. He also painted many of his contemporary compatriots, including novelist Leo Tolstoy, composer Modest Mussorgsky and  scientist Dmitri Mendeleev. A common recurring theme in his paintings was the Russian Revolutionary Movement, and as a result his works are often classified as a “Russian national style.”

In his later life, he lived in a house in Kuokkala, Finland, called the Penates, which he designed and built himself. After the October Revolution of 1917, Finland declared Independence, and Repin was invited to return to the Soviet Union. He refused, saying that he was too old to make the journey, and remained in Finland until his death thirteen years later. In 1940, the Penates house was opened to the public as a museum.
http://www.imaginarymuseum.net/view/flipcard