I chose to focus on the painting Barge Haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin. It was painted between 1870 and 1873 as his first commissioned work after graduation from the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. Repin then joined the group known as the Peredvizhniki, or the Wanderer’s, in the late 1870’s. I found it interesting that Repin attended the Academy at the same time as the group of 14 that started the Peredvizhniki but still decided to graduate but joined them afterwards. I think his work on the Barge Haulers on the Volga connects him to the Peredvizhniki even though he was not an official member at the time that he completed the work. The timing of the work demonstrates to me that although he did not leave the Academy with the group of 14 he sympathized or agreed with their views that art should reflect life. The work shows a crew of barge haulers pulling a ship through the river. The work highlights the facial features and the deprived bodies of the haulers. As part of the realist movement, Repin is showing a task that would place someone in the lowest group of Russian society. This differs dramatically from the classical works in which the highest levels of society were painted. I think the realists work helped contribute to the future Bolshevik Revolution by providing culture to the masses in Russia instead of having art be strictly for the upper classes and rich. By showing the common man and the worker Repin highlighted the differences between the upper classes of society and the working classes of society.
http://www.wikiart.org/en/ilya-repin Accessed 8/30/2015
http://www.abcgallery.com/R/repin/repinbio.html Accessed 8/30/2015
http://www.wikiart.org/en/ilya-repin/haulers-on-the-volga-1873 Accessed 8/30/2015