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Cossacks writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan

Painting, 1891, 203×358 cm

Description of the artwork «Cossacks writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan»

Picture "The Cossacks" Repin wrote longer than any other. The idea originated on a secular reception, where he was simultaneously invited Ilya Repin and historian Dmytro Yavornytsky. Have Yavornytsky was a copy of a letter written in 1676 by ataman Ivan Serko (Sirko) together with the Cossacks to Sultan Mahmoud IV. Angered by the fact that the Cossacks had destroyed him 15-thousand army, a Turkish Bishop invited the camp to move to his jurisdiction and in case of refusal, were threatened with complete destruction.

Facial expressions Cossacks clear what the answer they wrote. "You're the devil turecki, damned devil's brother and tovarysh and lucipara Secretary!" – read Yavornytsky under the loud laughter. And Repin mentally imagined the scene that I will write based on this epistolary incident.

In 1880-ies Repin specially went to Ukraine to gather material for paintings. Helped him and Yavornytsky, providing free access to their content and ancient attributes of the Cossacks – clothes, pipes, shoes, weapons. Repin painted a lot of sketches before starting work on the main picture1, 2, 3). By the way, the trip Repin was accompanied by his young apprentice Valentin Serov - he also didsome outlines.

In 1888 Repin once again drove to the places of Cossack glory, got to the station Pashkovsky, and most importantly – caught Cossack spirit of irrepressible freedom. "Damn the people! No one in the whole world did not feel so deeply freedom, equality, and fraternity", – he admired the Ukrainian Cossacks. Of course, one of the sources that inspired the artist was the story of Gogol "Taras Bulba". In fact, her characters present here.

Taras Bulba, the mighty Cossack laughing in white hat, written with the Professor of the Petersburg Conservatory. His son Andrew is an intelligent young man on the left, with a subtle smile and soft facial features, the prototype of his was a relative of the composer Mikhail Glinka. Next to him is a harsh Cossack with a bandage on his head, he in the role of older brother, Ostap Bulba.

What is Ivan Sirko? The chieftain spun mustache looks wicked beady eyes, clearly enjoying apt phrase. Its prototype – commander of the Kiev military district General Mikhail Dragomirov. Forgot Repin and the chief Advisor and inspirer Dmitry Yavorsky is imprinted on the image of the clerk. In order to make the right smile, Repin entertained with its model of caricature magazines.

Powerful Nude figure of a Cossack in the foreground is not only an illustration of the power and strength of Zaporozhye freemen. Beside him to you in Sich players were instructed to play without a shirt, to not have the ability to hide a map in his sleeve or bosom.

The circular composition creates the feeling of a tornado, gaining the force of a hurricane, which if takes off, it will not find anyone. It is worth noting that Repin managed in this picture will represent a whole encyclopedia of laughter. I think we generally all shades of fun, for which there are symbols here and inextinguishable laughter, a thin smile, and a sarcastic smile, and laugh-grin, from which the creeps, chills, and infectious laughter, and giggling, and laughter, and banter. Do not forget that within the household, genre images Repin closely, his best work is a Grand generalization, acquiring the features of monumentality, partly even blindesti, mythological. And here before us is not just a group of Cossacks and historical funny moment – we see and feel the spirit of the Zaporozhian Sich, the quintessence of a rebellious, freedom-loving Cossacks.

Repin constantly doubted his talent, and often called themselves "ordinary person", and in dialogue might seem overly helpful. But this deceptive appearance of the softness. If he was convinced of something, then there were no authorities who would have persuaded him. When "the Cossacks" was almost finished, he suddenly "closed" one of the most colourful figures turned back Cossack in a long Kirei (compare with later versionsof the picture). "Gray hospital robe," called it a robe and a disgruntled critics accused the artist that he with his own hands ruined the masterpiece. However, Repin was unwavering: "I know I'm in the space of many years, and diligent, and brought my painting to a complete harmony in itself, which rarely happens, and quite calm. As if she may have seemed to anyone — I don't care".

Author: Alain Esaulova
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Historical scene

Style of art: Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1891

Size: 203×358 cm

Artwork in selections: 65 selections

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