Negress (1907) by Ilya Repin

Negress - Ilya Repin - 1907

Artwork Information

ArtistIlya Repin
Art MovementRealism,Orientalism

About Negress

The artwork titled “Negress” was created by the renowned artist Ilya Repin in 1907. Known for his adherence to Realism and elements of Orientalism, Repin has crafted a portrait that is reflective of these movements. The genre of this work is firmly situated within the realm of portraiture, which is evident in the focus on the individual subject depicted.

In this artwork, one observes the portrayal of a woman of African descent. She is depicted in profile, with her gaze directed away from the viewer. The woman is adorned in a vibrant red garment that is wrapped around her torso, contrasting with her dark complexion. Additionally, a piece of fabric, possibly a headscarf with patterns of red and white, drapes over her head and shoulder, adding a further layer of contrast and emphasizing her form.

Repin’s application of paint is vigorous and textured, consistent with the Realist movement’s focus on true-to-life representation. However, the lush, undefined background speaks to the Orientalist influence, providing an ambiguous setting that suggests an exotic atmosphere without definable context. The use of shadow and light across the woman’s face and attire creates a sense of dimensionality, further accentuating her features and the tactile quality of the fabrics.

Collectively, Repin’s masterful use of color, composition, and brushwork in “Negress” crafts a vivid and intimate portrait, revealing his skill in rendering human depth and complexity while engaging with cultural and artistic themes of his era.

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