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The suppression of the Indian uprising by the British

Painting, 1884

Description of the artwork «The suppression of the Indian uprising by the British»

In October 1882 Vasily Vereshchagin was 40. He just had another bout of chronic fevers, old wounds ached, midlife crisis held by the throat: the artist said "puny strength had fallen and the purpose of life is lost". Completely IStream nervous system zhivopisuya the horrors of war, Vereshchagin had sworn never to write battle paintings, and did not know what to do. He needed new stories, new experiences. In connection with the murder of Alexander II of Russia was strengthened by the police mode, and travel at home Vereshchagin feared. "Well-worn plots and offices– shared it concerns an old friend, the critic Vladimir Stasov. – I'm in the liveliness of nature are capable of going to someone and mug to spit in the face to give". In this regard, Vereshchagin decided to go back to India, which has been eight years ago.

Arriving in Agra, Vasily continued for some time moping, but he had to come out of retirement as the spleen retreated. "Of course, the Indian subjects do not interest me he said in another letter. – Although, however, there is one that I mainly went here; this will catch not just English skin".

Vereshchagin did not stay true to the word not to write any more war stories. This time he turned to the subject of the suppression of the British revolt of the sepoys in 1857. The Indian uprising of mercenaries against the colonists employers last but not least been successfully suppressed due to the public executions that received a poetic name "the Devil's wind." In 1857, the newspaper the People's Rares these highly effective interventions are described as follows: "The British in India invented a method of execution so horrific that all of humanity is shocked. Are these merciful Christians invented a subtle way – tied living people to the muzzles of the guns, and then fired, ripping people to pieces, spraying blood rain of the pieces of the human body and guts at the audience".

Vereshchagin could not see "Devil winds" in action – the first time he had been in India much later. However, being not only an artist but also a passionate ethnographer, he tried to figure out every detail: what kind of gun was usedin what form were dressed soldiers and officers, for any path flying severed head of the sepoys.
When (two years after the return of the artist from India) painting "The suppression of the Indian uprising by the British" was written, Vereshchagin commented: "Modern civilization has scandalicious mainly to the fact that the Turkish massacre was carried out close in Europe, and then the means of committing atrocities too reminded tamerlanovsky times: cut, slit her throat, just sheep.Another thing from the British: first, they were doing the work of justice, the matter of retribution for the violated rights of winners, far away, in India; secondly, did the thing Grand: hundreds tied rebelled against their rule and not of sepoys of the sepoys to the muzzles of guns and no projectile, one gunpowder, shot them is already a great success against pererezali throat or ripping the belly".

Of course, the public perceived these words as a mockery to the British, who imagine themselves enlightened and civilized nation, and yet capable of such atrocities. The irony of this statement is obvious. However, it is guessed, and something akin to respect for the ingenuity of the British.

Vereshchagin, not so long ago participated in the Russo-Turkish war saw a lot of bloody horrors, compared with which death was instantaneous from a powder charge looked almost compassionate. In addition, the indifference of Indians to death was well known. What is so scared of the natives of this method of murder? "The death of this they are not afraid, and the penalty means nothing to them, – wrote Vereshchagin. - But what they avoid, what we fear, so it is necessary to stand before the highest judge in incomplete, tormented, without a head, without hands, with a lack of members. Naturally, then buried together, without rigorous analysis of who exactly the yellow gentlemen belongs to one or the other part of the body. The Europeans difficult to understand the horror of the Indian high caste, if necessary, only touch brother inferior: it needs not to shut yourself the opportunity to escape, to bathe and to offer sacrifices after that without end. And here can happen no more, no less that the head of a brahmin will fall to eternal rest near the spine pariah".

A curious paradox: the British were able to crush the rebellion, thanks to the interest and attention to the indigenous culture and religion.

Veteran soldiers, tried not once criticized the battle, who defended and attacked "by the book" - neatly and smoothly, as if on the parade ground training. He drew the war without embellishment – with all its turmoil, confusion, absurdity. "The suppression of the Indian revolt by the English" differs from most of his work is the fact that it is written with a relatively cold heart. A high-pitched content of clothed in cool shape. The strict geometry of the composition emphasizes the indispensable elements of the action. Drama trampled by the iron of the British order.

However, this unseen gunfire Vereshchagin managed to adopt "English skin". In any case, there is a legend claiming that a picture (some time stationed in the United States) were bought by the British government. And then destroyed – may have been shot from cannons.

Author: Andrew Zimoglyadov
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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: 1884

Artwork in selections: 6 selections

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