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The famous painting "Burlaki on the Volga"

There are not so many people who do not know the picture "Burlaki on the Volga" by the great Russian painter Ilya Repin. Her images became textbook. Today it is difficult to imagine what a significant resonance caused this grand canvas in various circles of Russian society, after it was presented to him for review. Painting "Burlaki on the Volga" was the first major work of the author, published after the Petersburg Academy of Arts on the path of independent creativity. Its success was staggering in its range. The picture was equally evoked by stormy rapture and angry indignation. And both sides found for their emotions pretty strong arguments.

Ilya Repin, the picture "Burlaki on the Volga"

This work did not leave anyone indifferent. What did the author of the painting want to say to Russian society with his painting "Burlaki on the Volga"? Echoes of controversy on this topic do not cease to this day. The conservative part of the Russian society declared Repin's "Burlaks" "the greatest profanation of art" and did not spare pejorative epithets in critical publications in the press devoted to the events of artistic life. But the progressive part of society was struck by the depth and power of the work presented to the public. But they both unanimously recognized that the painting "Burlaki on the Volga" by Ilya Repin is a new word in Russian art. Only one part of the audience a break away from traditional academicism was pleased, and the other was outraged. It should be noted that the break with the traditions of academicism in Repin occurred only at the thematic level, he powerfully developed public attention from orthodox biblical subjects to the everyday life of the Russian people.

But no one could dispute the meaning of "Burlaks" in terms of achievements of the classical school of Russian realism. Work on the canvas in total took about three years. We see now the final version of the picture. He got to the author not easily, he had to do hundreds of sketches and go through dozens of options before he came to the final compositional decision. Ilya Repin traveled along the Volga from Tver to Saratov in search of prototypes for his characters. He lived among them, communicated with them and wrote numerous etudes. In addition, on the canvas, we also see portraits of specific people with a very uneasy fate. But behind these portraits it is impossible not to notice the generalized symbolic image of the Russian people. Many people are still wondering whether he will always dutifully pull his strap or someday overturn this barge upside down?

The fate of the work

This was the first great success of the young painter Ilya Repin. The fate of the picture was formed happily. It became one of the most significant works in the history of Russian painting. If you try to guess at random any significant product of the era, then the likelihood is that it will be just the picture "Burlaki on the Volga". Her photo is usually adorned with albums and advertising materials of the State Russian Museum, where she still occupies a place of honor in the permanent exposition.

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