Ilya Yefimovich Repin

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (August O.S. 2July 1844, Chuguyev, Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire – September 29, 1930, Kuokkala, Viipuri Province, Finland) 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 town of Chuhuiv near Kharkiv 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 named Bunakov 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 colour. His style was to remain closer to that of the old European masters, especially Rembrandt, and he never embraced impressionism.

Throughout his career, Repin was drawn to the common people from whom he traced his origins. He frequently painted country folk, both Ukrainian and Russian, though in later years he also painted members of the Imperial Russian elite, the intelligentsia, and the aristocracy, including Tsar Nicholas II. The Itinerants

In 1878, Repin joined the free-thinking 'Association of Peredvizhniki Artists', generally called 'the Wanderers' or 'The Itinerants' in English. About the time of his arrival in the capital, a core group of students rebelled against the academic formalism of the Imperial Academy. Repin's fame was established by his painting of the Barge Haulers on the Volga, a work which portrayed the hard lot of the poor folk. From 1882 he lived in Saint Petersburg but visited his Ukrainian homeland and on occasion made tours abroad.

Beginning shortly before the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, Repin painted a series of pictures dealing with the theme of the Russian revolutionary movement: Refusal to Confess, Arrest of a Propagandist, The Meeting, and They Did Not Expect Him. The last is considered his masterpiece on the subject, mixing contrasting psychological moods and Russian and Ukrainian national motifs. His large-scale Religious Procession in the Province of Kursk is sometimes considered an archetype of the 'Russian national style,' as it displays various social classes and the tensions among them, set within the context of a traditional religious practice and united by a slow but relentless forward movement.

In 1885, Repin completed one of his most psychologically intense paintings, Ivan the Terrible and his Son. This canvas displayed a horrified Ivan embracing his dying son, whom he had just struck and mortally wounded in an uncontrolled fit of rage. The terrified face of Ivan is in marked contrast with that of his calm, almost Christlike son.Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire, 1880–9(State Russian Museum).

One of Repin's most complex paintings, Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire occupied him for more than a decade. He conceived this painting as a study in laughter, but also believed that it involved the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. He wanted to portray Cossack republicanism, in this particular case, Ukrainian Cossack republicanism. Begun in the late 1870s, he completed it in 1891, when it was immediately purchased by the Tsar for 35,000 roubles, an enormous amount at the time.

During his maturity, Repin painted many of his most celebrated compatriots, including the novelist Leo Tolstoy, the court photographer Rafail Levitsky, the scientist Dmitri Mendeleev, the imperial official Konstantin Pobedonostsev, the composer Modest Mussorgsky, the cellist Aleksandr Verzhbilovich, the philanthropist Pavel Tretyakov, and the Ukrainian poet and painter, Taras Shevchenko.

In 1903, he was commissioned by the Russian government to paint a 400x87cm canvas, representing a ceremonial session of the State Council of Imperial Russia. Later lifePenaty, the Repin House-Museum in Kuokkala, now Repino.

Repin designed his home Penaty (literally, 'the Penates') or the Roman 'Household Gods', located just to the north of Saint Petersburg in Kuokkala, Grand Duchy of Finland. After the 191October Revolution, Finland declared independence. He was invited by various Soviet institutions to return to Russia but refused, saying that he was too old to make the journey. During this period, Repin devoted much time to painting religious subjects, though his treatment of these was usually innovative and not traditional. With the exception of a portrait of Provisional Government head, Alexander Kerensky, he never painted anything substantial on the subject of the 1917 revolutions or the Soviet experiment that followed. His last painting, a joyous and exuberant canvas called The Hopak, was on a Ukrainian Cossack theme.

In 1930, he died in Kuokkala, Finland. After the Continuation War, Finland ceded Kuokkala to the Soviet Union, which renamed it Repino (Leningrad Oblast). Penaty is part of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments. In 1940, Penaty was opened for the public as a house museum.

Alexander Glazunov's Oriental Rhapsody, Op. 2(1889) is dedicated to Ilya Repin.

The world record price for a painting by Repin is £4.million ($7.million) at Christie's for A Parisian Cafe .

He is in the highest category '- an artist of the world fame, tested with time (for no less than a century)' in 'United Artists Rating'.

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