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One of the most famous creations of I.E. Before writing this canvas, the artist traveled first along the Neva, and then along the Volga. The birth of a masterpiece was preceded by the writing of sketches dedicated to the barge haulers, and their portraits. The painter met the people of this difficult profession in 1870, and three years later the painting in its final version was born.
The first impression of the canvas - a group of emaciated people under the hot sun pulls a barge, overcoming the strength of the flow of the great Russian river. There are eleven people in the group, and each of them pulls a strap that cuts into his chest and shoulders. From tattered clothes, it becomes clear that only extreme poverty can push a person to such work. Some of the hacks have shirts so dilapidated that the strap simply wiped them through. However, people stubbornly continue to drag the ship by the rope.
If you look closely at the characters individually, you can see that each person has his own character. Someone completely obeyed a difficult fate, someone philosophically calm, because they understand that the season will end, and with it hard work. But the family after that will no longer need.
The composition of the picture is built as if the barge haulers are moving towards the viewer. However, people pulling the strap do not close each other, so you can notice that one of the characters lights a cigarette, while the rest take on the whole load. Nevertheless, all the members of the group are calm, apparently due to great fatigue. They will treat their comrade kindly, with the understanding that he, too, needs a little rest.
The young hooded-haired man, who seemed to have grown in stature, did not seem to have calculated his strength, and is now too exhausted to properly rest on the strap. Only the central character continues to walk expertly. This is an old barge hauler, apparently - the main one in the team. He already knows exactly how to calculate the strength, so he steps smoothly. He is wearing dense clothing, despite the heat, as he knows that a light shirt will quickly wear out on such a job. His gaze reflected fatigue, and even some hopelessness, but at the same time, the realization that the road was still overpowered by the walker.
I must say that many then reacted critically to Repin's painting, but time put everything in its place: hardly anybody will remember the names of critics now, while more than one generation of our compatriots knows about Ilya Efimovich from school.
Composition By Serebryakova Picture For Breakfast