Defeated. Memorial service

Vasily Vereshchagin • Painting, 1879, 179×300 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Landscape, Historical scene
Style of art: Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1879
Size: 179×300 cm
Artwork in selections: 62 selections

Description of the artwork «Defeated. Memorial service»

Participation in the Russo-Turkish war was a severe test even for such an old hand as Vasily Vereshchagin. He was on Board of the destroyer "a Joke" when he entered into an unequal battle with the Turkish frigate. Vereshchagin miraculously survived a hail of bullets, but was wounded in the thigh, that long in the hospital, almost died from gangrene. After he remembered it was not just mentally told myself: "All brother, I got you, will not leave alive". Death was everywhere here.

During the assault of Plevna was killed the younger brother of the artist – Sergey Vereshchagin. To bury him could not – the land on which he died, was still for some time occupied by the Turks. Vasily Vereshchagin, who was unable to properly stay in the saddle, went in search, but soon realized that the idea is doomed: "Get the body there was no way – and so it remained, to my great sorrow, to swell and rot in the ground – a terrible mass poludennyi this day the corpses of our soldiers".

Based on this sad expedition he painted "Defeated. Requiem" - probably the most poignant and personal in all Balkan loop.

The vast field strewn with dead bodies. The priest reads the prayer for the dying prayer to the fallen. Stormy sky, sparingly drop to the frozen ground the sun's rays, – a timid hope that someday the clouds will part and the bloodshed will end.

Vereshchagin was painting a picture in the Paris suburb of Maisons-Lafitte, where equipped a unique workshop under the open sky: looped rail, which has moved the special cabin. Sitting in it (or, alternatively, by placing the cockpit in a particular subject), the artist could literally "catch the sun" and almost any time to get the right lighting or angle. This device allowed him to achieve the play of light and darkness, which gives "Losers" a Grand funeral sound.

The Balkan series became a sensation: it was accompanied by a sold out in Paris and London, at the exhibition in St. Petersburg was visited by 200 thousand people. As for the "Losers" - one of the main canvases of the cycle, it provoked from fellow artist's contradictory feelings. While some paid tribute to the obvious talent Vereshchagin, others strove to bark at him for shortage of Patriotic fervor.

Ivan Turgenev wrote in one of the Paris Newspapers: "The special feature of this talent is the persistent pursuit of truth, the peculiar and typical in nature and man, which he passes with great faithfulness and power, sometimes a few harsh, but always sincere and majestic... It's war scenes, devoid, however, of all the chauvinistic spirit. Vereshchagin thinks to poetiziruet the Russian army, to tell of her glory, and seeks to show all sides of the war: pathetic, ugly, horrible, as well as others, especially the psychological aspect, the subject of his constant attention."

Once the exhibition came a priest, who told the high-ranking guests that he conducted the memorial service after fighting at Telesem in Bulgaria and that the picture is absolutely true. However, neither eyewitness accounts nor the intercession of Turgenev did not prevent the patriots accusing Vereshchagin of bias and "open glorification of Turkish military power". As growing public discontent (claim traditionally voiced and members of the Royal family), dwindling hope Vereshchagin to sell the whole Balkan series as a whole. Being one of the most famous battle in Europe, he is barely making ends meet, as reported in a letter to Stasov criticism: "My biography now and pouring, too, that is, in the belly of a silk, and in the belly of Tits!"

Working on "the Losers," iron man Vereshchagin snapped. Physical and mental wounds, multiplied by the criticism and financial troubles forced him to exclaim in their hearts: "More battle pictures will not write enough! I'm too close to my heart accept what I write, viplachivau (literally) Woe to every wounded and killed". He even remained true to his word within a few weeks.

Author: Andrew Zimoglyadov