Burlak (1870 – 1873) by Ilya Repin

Burlak - Ilya Repin - 1870 - 1873

Artwork Information

ArtistIlya Repin
Date1870 - 1873
Dimensions61 x 50 cm
Art MovementRealism

About Burlak

The artwork titled “Burlak” is a creation by the artist Ilya Repin, dating from the period between 1870 and 1873. Crafted using oil on canvas, this piece measures 61 by 50 centimeters. It is a portrait that exemplifies the Realism art movement, recognized for capturing subjects in a truthful and natural manner, often depicting the working-class life and the social realities of the period.

In this evocative artwork, Repin portrays a figure characterized by a distinctively weary yet resilient demeanor. The subject appears to be a burlak, a traditional Russian bargeman, typically part of the lower social strata and responsible for manually hauling vessels along rivers. The portrait is suffused with a somber atmosphere, with its dark background allowing the viewer’s focus to zero in on the figure’s strong, expressive features. The man’s gaze is downcast, suggesting contemplation or exhaustion, while the loose, free-handed brushstrokes in the depiction of his curly hair and rugged clothing contribute to the overall sense of realism and immediacy. The use of light and shade accentuates the physicality and emotional state of the burlak, thereby highlighting the thematic elements of endurance and hardship. Repin’s skilled artistry in “Burlak” palpably communicates a narrative of struggle, offering insight into the lived experiences of 19th-century Russian laborers.

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