Russian painter of battle-pieces. With deep dramatic captured cruel weekdays war, the severity, and the heroic feats of labour (picture battle cycle on the theme of the Patriotic war of 1812, Turkestan campaign and the war in the Balkans). Traveling a lot, mastered the genre of documentary and ethnographic art. Died in Port Arthur during the explosion of the battleship "Petropavlovsk".
The largest battle-painter Vasily Vereshchagin was born on October 14, 1842 in Cherepovets in the family of a landowner. When the boy was eight years old, his parents sent him to a Young cadet corps, after which in 1853 he is transferred to the St. Petersburg naval cadet corps. Here is fond of drawing and he devotes all his free time. In 1858 Vereshchagin began visiting of the Petersburg drawing school Society for the encouragement of arts. About his abilities with approval responded teachers, and he dreamed of becoming an artist.
In 1860, she graduated from the body, Vereshchagin, against the will of parents, resigned and entered the Academy of arts. Angered by the act of the son, the father refused to material assistance. Began the difficult years of life. Vereshchagin was persistently engaged in painting, however, the academic education system with its normativity and traditionalism weighed artist. The protest of the young painter is reflected in the fact that he destroyed one of his paintings — "Beating suitors Penelope returned by Ulysses". In 1863 he left the Academy and went to the Caucasus to "on the freedom and space of the interesting things to learn." His first independent works were numerous drawings with the image types of people, domestic scenes and landscapes of the Caucasus.
In 1866, living on the banks of the Sheksna in the village Lyubets, Vereshchagin could see the hard work Burlakov. He planned to create the big picture, which wanted to show hopeless share of poor people in tsarist Russia. Vereshchagin performed a sketch of the painting, wrote several studies, but to finish the job failed.
In 1867 he went to Turkestan, where at that time there was a military clashes. "I went because I wanted to know what the true war that was widely read and heard…", the artist wrote. Vereshchagin not only the witness of war, but also its direct participant. In 1868 in the Russian garrison he defended Samarkand fortress from the troops of the Emir of Bukhara and was awarded for bravery and courage of the George cross. In 1869−1870 Vereshchagin again made a trip to Turkestan: meets this specific country, studying the manners and customs of the feudal East; as a result, creates a large series of paintings about Central Asia.
Exotic Sunny East, elegant and bright costumes shielded from the artist-humanist poverty and lawlessness of the people. Thus appeared the work: "the Beggars in Samarkand" (1870,. State Tretyakov gallery), "Opioide" (GOS. Museum of arts of the Uzbek SSR), "Sale of the child-slave" (1872, state Tretyakov gallery), "Samarkand zindan" (GOS. Museum of arts of the Uzbek SSR), "Uzbek woman in Tashkent" (1873, TG) and many others. The artist speaks fluent brush, and rich, saturated colors convey hot southern sky, spring green steppe, the coolness of the mountain peaks, covered with snow, and intricate ornamentation of ancient buildings of Samarkand. .
The Central place in this series occupy battle paintings, they had a great success in Russia and abroad, having defined the main direction of creativity Vereshchagin. Already in samyh early paintings, the artist made a protest against wars of conquest, with the conviction of those whose fault people were killed. Anti-militarist nature of the works is the result of thinking and life observations Vereshchagin, who contributed battle painting bold severe truth, what to him in this genre did not know Russian art. The heroes of his paintings he did soldiers, simple Russian people. "Soldiers Vereshchagin, " wrote centuries Stasov, is all the same people only… wearing the uniform and a gun".
In the picture "The fortress wall. Let him come" (1871, the state Tretiakov gallery) in suspense waiting for the fight Russian soldiers. Severe their faces, poses a strong determination. In the film "Entered" - the same place in the fortress, but after the fight. A series of battle paintings combined in series, where the artist develops the idea of the cruelty of the feudal lords, the wildness orders of magnitude, about the heroism and courage of Russian soldiers: "Look out" (1873, state Tretyakov gallery), "Attack by surprise" (1871, the state Tretiakov gallery), "Present trophies" (1872, state Tretyakov gallery), "Triumph" (1872, state Tretyakov gallery) and "the Apotheosis of war" (1871−1872, state Tretyakov gallery).
In the painting "the Apotheosis of war" against the background of the war-ravaged city and charred trees — a pyramid of human skulls. The original intention of the painting was connected with the name of Central Asian conqueror of late XIV-early XV century Tamerlane, the troops which left such a pyramid. But the work on the content more specific historical episode. Ruins of the skull, the desert at all times been perceived as a symbol of death and destruction, and Vereshchagin makes the inscription on the frame: "Dedicated to all great conquerors, past, present and future". "The apotheosis of war" is a harsh condemnation of the war, supporting the destruction and misery.
"I don’t know, " wrote I. N. Kramskoy about Vereshagina — there is currently an artist he is equal not only in Russia but also abroad…" Bold incriminating pictures caused a hostile attitude to the artist reactionary circles of Russia, which accused him of libel against Russian army. It is hard going through unfair charges, Vereshchagin burned three paintings: "the Forgotten", "Surround — persecuted" and "Entered". Works Vereshchagin was forbidden to put and play in books, Newspapers and magazines. For thirty years the tsarist government has not purchased a single picture became world famous artist. Only P. M. Tretyakov bought most of Turkestan works. In 1874−1876, 1882−1883 years Vereshchagin made two trips to India to study the life, nature and life of the country. During his travels he had to suffer, threatened: snow peaks of the Himalayas he nearly froze; sweltering tropical heat was sick with fever. The result of observations was more than one hundred fifty sketches depicting the greatness of Indian white-stone architecture, blue southern sky, bright national clothes of the Hindus. Among the best sketches include: "a Buddhist temple in Darjeeling" (1874−1875, GTG), "the Glacier on a road from Kashmir in Ladakh" (1875, GTG), "the Mausoleum Taj Mahal" (1874−1876, state Tretyakov gallery).
A number of paintings of the artist decided to dedicate the history of seizure of India by the British. He had the idea of creating a big beautiful poem, which was to tell about the historical fate of India, the transformation of the powerful independent country into a colony of the British Empire. The artist has managed to implement only some of these paintings, in particular "the Procession of English and native authorities Jeypore" (1875−1879, Museum Victorian-Memorium, Calcutta).
Broke out in 1877 — 1878 years of the Russian-Turkish war again led him to the front. With all my soul feeling the liberation struggle of the Slavs against the Turkish yoke, the artist has participated in many battles. In one of the battles he was seriously wounded and almost died.
"To fulfill the goal that I set out, " wrote Vereshchagin, is to give the public a picture of a real genuine war cannot looking to battle through binoculars from nice distant, and all you need to feel and do, take part in the attacks, storms, victories, defeats, hunger, sickness, wounds. You need not be afraid to sacrifice their blood and their meat, otherwise my paintings will be wrong."
The war in the paintings Vereshchagin again appeared in all the harsh and courageous truth, as a dramatic event. With pain and bitterness felt by the artist huge human losses in this difficult bloody war.
Picture Balkan series with unparalleled truthfulness reproduce weekdays war, the battle scenes: heavy transitions of the Russian army in the mountains, field dressing hospitals and scenes of atrocities of the Turks. The artist revealed another side to the war showed careerism and crime Royal command, fraught with evil Russian soldiers on a senseless death. The main group of works are paintings of the heroic defense of SHIPKA: "Dugout at SHIPKA" (GOS. the Museum of Russian art, Kiev), "Batteries at SHIPKA" (GOS. the Museum of Russian art, Kiev) "At SHIPKA quiet" (1878−1879, location unknown), "SHIPKA-Sheinovo" (1878−1879, state Tretyakov gallery).
A number of paintings of the artist dedicates events associated with the assault of Plevna: "Attack" (1881, the Central historical Museum of artillery), "After the attack" (1881,state Tretyakov gallery). Pictures "Winners" (1878−1879, GOS. the Museum of Russian art, Kiev), "Defeated. A memorial service for the dead" (1878−1879, TG) dedicated to the battle at Telesem — here because "the Supreme persons" was destroyed almost the Entire regiment of Chasseurs. In the film "Winners" depicts the terrible masquerade: the Turks, changed on the battlefield in uniforms killed Russian soldiers; the other is the "Losers" — is a boundless field, strewn with the corpses of soldiers. Picture Balkan series differ severe simplicity and restraint of color solutions. Color cast to the desired unity of the murky autumn, cloudy winter tones. In 1880 and 1883, this series was exhibited in St. Petersburg. For forty days the exhibition was visited by more than two hundred thousand people, the success exceeded all expectations.
1880-ies in the artist’s creative life is marked by extraordinary activity, searches for new topic. He again goes to India (1882 — 1883) and then in Syria and Palestine (1883−1884). So there is a "Palestinian"series, consisting mainly of sketches and paintings documentary ethnographic character. Significant work of the artist to create a "Trilogy of executions": "the Crucifixion during the rule of the Romans", "Execution of the conspirators in Russia" (1884−1885, GOS. the Museum of the Revolution) and suppression of the Indian rebellion of England" (about 1884, location unknown). The second picture was inspired by the death of autocracy with revolutionaries-people 3 April 1881.
The result trip Vereshchagin the North in the years 1880−1890 was a series of drawings and sketches with images of monuments of old wooden architecture of the Russian North nature and the simple Russian people. From 1887 to 1901 the artist worked on a series of paintings dedicated to the Patriotic war of 1812. More than twenty paintings created on this subject. Artist led high Patriotic thoughts — show in the pictures of 1812 a great national spirit of the Russian people, his selflessness and heroism in the struggle with the enemy." The artist managed to Express liberation, the people’s character of war, to debunk Napoleon, to deprive him of "the pedestal of the hero, which he lifted up."
The series opens with a scene of the battle of Borodino, which the artist has devoted two paintings: "Napoleon on Borodinsky heights" (1897) and "the End of the Borodino battle" (1899−1900, GOS. Historical Museum). Stay Napoleonic army in Moscow reflected in fourteen paintings. Among them: "In the assumption Cathedral" (1887−1895), "Fire" (1896 — 1897), "Through the fire " (1899−1900), "the Shooting in the Kremlin" (1897−1898; all in the State. Historical Museum) and others. In several paintings showing retreat and defeat of the French army: "In the city Grodno-to break or to retreat", "On the phase — bad news from France" (1887−1895),
"On the high road. Retreat and escape" (1887−1895), "Night halt great army" (1896−1897, GOS. Historical Museum). A great place in the series took the theme of the people’s guerrilla war with the invaders. It is important to note that the artist has depicted not famous guerrilla commanders, such as D. Davydov, Figner, and recreated feat simple peasants, members of national liberation movement.
…Hats fluffy white snow has covered the branches of the pines. In ambush farmers expect the enemy. Ahead, glancing up through the trees, stands a tall old man with an axe in his lowered his hand. The enemy’s near. The excitement and impatience can be seen on the faces of the partisans, but the old, experienced and wise Manager keeps comrades. "Not Sami, give rise", — says like Anete words are the name of the work (1887−1895, GOS. Historical Museum). The artist resorted to a wide, several decorative interpretation of the landscape, trying to create a generic epic image of Russian nature. In the film "With the weapon in hands — shoot" (1887−1895, GOS. Historical Museum) sealed reprisals against the guerrillas captured by French. In a recent works "Night halt great army" depicts the inglorious end of the invaders destroyed the once invincible army.
Great Patriotic idea underlying the series, depth and acuteness of subjects, bright folk images, interesting compositional solutions make this the last major work of an artist worthy contribution to historical painting of the end of XIX century.
Up to the end of his life the artist continued to travel. After a trip to Syria and Palestine in the late 80's-early 90-ies he was twice in America, in 1901−1902 — in the Philippines and Cuba, in 1903 — in Japan. Impressions of Japan is reflected in a number of studies that give an idea of the ancient, full of character architecture, national customs of this interesting country.
The Russo-Japanese war found Vereshchagin at work on several paintings; he left all and, according to Repin, "flew" on the far East again to participate in battles and tell about them in his works. "Some, " wrote Vereshchagin, — spread the idea of the world for its exciting mighty word, others put in defense of its various arguments, religious, economic and others, and I preach the same through the colours".
on March 31, 1904 Vereshchagin together with Admiral S. O. Makarov died on the battleship "Petropavlovsk"exploded enemy mine at the roadstead near Port Arthur.