1.4.4 Peredvizhniki and Abramtsevo Colony (1870 – 1890)

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Barge Hauliers on the Volga, Repin
Rooks have come back, Savrasov
Wet Meadow, Vasilyev
Autumn Day at Abramtsevo, Repin

Peredvizhniki, often called The Wanderers or The Itinerants in English, were a group of Russian realist artists who formed an artists’ cooperative in protest of academic restrictions; the group set out to celebrate nature and the common lot of humanity, it evolved into the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions in 1870.

Abramtsevo is an estate located north of Moscow, in the proximity of Khotkovo, that became a center for the Slavophile movement and artistic activity in the 19th century. The estate is located in the village of the same name, in Sergiyevo-Posadsky District of Moscow Oblast.

Originally owned by author Sergei Aksakov, other writers and artists, such as Nikolai Gogol, at first came there as his guests.

Under Aksakov, visitors to the estate discussed ways of ridding Russian art of Western influences to revive a purely national style. In 1870, eleven years after Aksakov’s death, it was purchased by Savva Mamontov, a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts.

Under Mamontov, Russian themes and folk art flourished there. During the 1870s and 1880s, Abramtsevo hosted a colony of artists who sought to recapture the quality and spirit of medieval Russian art in the manner parallel to the Arts and Crafts movement in Great Britain.

Several workshops were set up there to produce handmade furniture, ceramic tiles, and silks imbued with traditional Russian imagery and themes.


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 sympathising 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 Vigee-Lebrun Medal for expression.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Barge Haulers on the Volga1870-3Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
Repin, Ilya1844-1930, aged 86Russian painterPeredvizhniki
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): 1440-11

State Hermitage Museum, Palace Square, 2, St Petersburg, Russia, 190008132 x 281  
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SavrasovRooksReturned.jpeg
Image source: Wikimedia commons
Savrasov was one of the most important, arguably the most important, of all the 19th c Russian landscape painters, considered the creator of the ‘lyrical landscape style’.

The Rooks Have Come Back‘ was created in 1871, it is Savrasov’s most famous painting, a lovely elegy to the spring announced by the rooks return.
[Source: theartwolf.com]
Rooks have come back, The1871Oil/CanvasLandscape
Savrasov, Alexei1830-1897, aged 67Russian painterPeredvizhniki
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): 1440-12

State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia62 x 49  
Feodor Vasilyev was a ‘boy genius’ who established himself as one of the most important and respected Russian painters of his era, he died at the age of 23 victim of tuberculosis.

In the lyrical landscape style of Russian painting Wet Meadow is a beautiful, lyric masterwork done completely from memory and a few sketches of the Russian plains.
[Source: theartwolf.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Wet Meadow1872Oil/CanvasLandscape
Vasilyev, Fyodor1850-1873, aged 23Russian painterPeredvizhniki
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): 1440-13

State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia70 x 114  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This Repin painting depicts an Autumn day in the Abramtsevo Colony.

Ilya Repin wrote to a friend in 1877. ‘I am inclined to think that Abramtsevo is the best dacha in the world – almost ideal’, this was during one of his first visits to the estate near Moscow belonging to his friend the industrialist Savva Mamontov.

The following year, in a letter to the critic Vladimir Stasov, Repin described his life there, ‘I have been living with my entire family at the Mamontovs’ for more than a month. Our life is very easy – the air is magical, there are all kinds of pleasures for body and soul’.

Now a museum, the estate was arguably, in Mamontov’s day, the most significant artistic colony in the country.
[Source: Wikimedia commons / theguardian.com]
Autumn Day in Abramtsevo1880Oil/CanvasLandscape
Repin, Ilya1844-1930, aged 86Russian painterAbramtsevo Colony
Private Collection52 x 49  

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Back to 1.4.3 Realism and Barbizon index
Forward to 1.5 Modern Art (1860-WWI)

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