A beggar with a bag (1879) by Ilya Repin

A beggar with a bag - Ilya Repin - 1879

Artwork Information

TitleA beggar with a bag
ArtistIlya Repin
Art MovementRealism

About A beggar with a bag

The artwork titled “A beggar with a bag” is a creation of the artist Ilya Repin, completed in the year 1879. It stands as a testament to the Realism art movement, representing a genre that encompasses both sketch and study. The piece is defined by its earnest and truthful portrayal of a subject drawn from everyday life, in line with the movement’s intent to depict subjects without embellishment or idealization.

In the artwork, viewers encounter a figure depicted with powerful strokes, suggesting a moment captured in time rather than a detailed study. The beggar shown is leaning against a wall beside what appears to be a shuttered window or door. The person’s attire is worn and layered, with a loosely fitting blouse and patched trousers, which are held up by what could be makeshift ties or straps. This clothing conveys a sense of poverty and makeshift repair. Footwear reminiscent of bast shoes, tied with crisscrossing laces, covers the beggar’s feet, contributing to the impression of a life spent in hardship.

The individual’s posture reveals a sense of weariness or resignation, with one hand resting on what looks to be a walking stick—a tool for support and perhaps an indicator of physical ailment or chronic fatigue. The other hand appears to be engaged in some interaction with the closed portal, possibly in an act of solicitation. A bag hangs prominently over the beggar’s shoulder, emphasizing the itinerant and impoverished state of the figure.

Repin’s sketch is expressive, composed of dynamic lines that add a sense of depth and texture to the composition. Despite the monochromatic palette and the loose sketchy nature of the work, there is a palpable intensity in the figure’s demeanor, an unspoken narrative about the subject’s life and the broader social circumstances. The date and artist’s signature are visible in the lower right corner, marking the authenticity of the piece and temporal context within which it was created.

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