Ilya Repin (1844-1930): Religious Procession in Kursk

3/27/2021, 5:04:41 PM
Ilya Repin (1844-1930): Religious Procession in Kursk Province, 1880 - 1883, Oil on canvas, 175 × 280 cm., The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Throughout his career, Repin was drawn to the common people with whom he shared his origins and aligned himself with Kramskoi’s Wanderers. His large-scale painting 'Religious Procession in the Province of Kursk' is considered one of his greatest masterpieces and displays Russia’s social classes and the tensions that divided them. The work shows a seething, huddled mass attending the annual religious procession (crucession) carrying the famous icon 'Our Lady of Kursk' from its home at the Korennaya Monastery to the nearby city of Kursk in western Russia. The procession is led through a dusty landscape by robed, Orthodox priests holding icons, festoons and banners over their heads. The figures of the procession are all completely different: someone is just tired, the faces of others express feigned and even cloying piety, and there is also swagger and humility, and just emptiness… It is in the center of the crowd where are the figures from the provincial elite walk. They are separated by horse cavalry and strong men on foot who are holding hands, the foremost at the left trying to stop the crippled boy breaking through the cordon with his stick. 'Religious Procession' lead to controversy when first exhibited due to the icon being held by a man who appears to be drunk. The work is a continuation of Repin's social commentary in his work, and highlights perceived abuses by both church and state. He wrote of the work, " I'm applying all of my insignificant forces to try to give true incarnation to my ideas; life around me disturbs me a great deal and gives me no peace – it begs to be captured on canvas.

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