Russian Museum
Augmented Reality


Barge Haulers on the Volga. 1870–73

Repin Ilya,
Oil on canvas
131,5 x 281

State Russian Museum

Пост. в 1918 году из бывшего дворца великого князя Владимира Александровича, (Петроград).


In 1868, when sailing on the River Neva in St Petersburg, Ilya Repin caught his first glimpse of men hauling barges. He was stunned at the sight of these unfortunate people in harness, in contrast to the elegant public promenading on the embankments. After two trips to the Volga and a direct acquaintance with many barge haulers, he painted this monumental canvas. One of the leading works of Russian painting, Barge Haulers on the Volga ushered in a whole new era in the history of genre painting. Repin elevates a scene often witnessed in real life into a wide generalisation, retaining the freshness of a spontaneous impression of life and a sense of the Volga expanses and sunlight. A gang of barge haulers moves slowly along the sandy bank of the great river.
Although they have trodden hundreds of miles, there is still no end to their distant path. While sympathizing with his heroes, Repin also expresses his admiration for their spiritual power and fortitude. The master’s vivid and memorable images were based on portraits of real haulers painted on the Volga.
Barge Haulers on the Volga won continental fame when it was shown at the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873, while the Imperial Academy of Arts awarded Repin the Vigée-Lebrun Medal for expression.

Author's Biography

Repin Ilya

Repin, Ilya Yefimovich
1844, Chuguyev (Kharkiv Province) - 1930, Kuokkala (Finland)
Painter, draughtsman, watercolour painter, portraitist, history painter. Studied under local artists at the School of Military Topography in Chuguyev (1854-57), under Ivan Kramskoi at the School of Drawing, Society for the Encouragement of Artists (1863) and at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1864-71). Fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Italy and France, lived mostly in Paris (1873-76). Academician (1876). Professor, full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1893). Member of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1878, exhibited from 1874). Headed a studio at the Higher School of Art, Imperial Academy of Arts (1894-1907) and taught at Princess Maria Tenisheva''s school of art (1895-98). Lived in St Petersburg and Moscow, settled in Kuokkala (1900).

© Russian museum 2013-2024