Return from the War (1865) by Alexei Korzukhin

Return from the War - Alexei Korzukhin - 1865

Artwork Information

TitleReturn from the War
ArtistAlexei Korzukhin
Art MovementRealism

About Return from the War

“Return from the War” is a genre painting by Alexei Korzukhin, created in 1865. It embodies the Realism art movement, which sought to capture the truth and reality of everyday life without idealization. Korzukhin’s work exemplifies the movement’s focus on depicting common subjects with a sense of authenticity and attention to detail.

The artwork presents a compelling narrative set within a modest, dimly lit interior, possibly a rural cabin or household. At the center, a solider, presumably returning from war, engages with his family and friends who seem to welcome him with a mixture of joy and reverence. The soldier’s posture and expression convey a sense of exhaustion yet relief at being home. Surrounding the soldier are various figures, each meticulously rendered to capture their individual reactions to his return. Their attire and demeanour suggest they are simple folk, and this adds to the artwork’s authentic portrayal of a real-life situation.

To the left, a woman likely the soldier’s mother or wife is seated with her back towards the viewer, a position that not only allows for focus on the soldier but also hints at her involvement in the scene—the pivot around which the family’s emotions revolve. A young boy stands at the foreground of the work, his arms crossed and gaze fixed intently on the soldier, perhaps admiring him or eagerly soaking in stories of the frontline. To our right, a group of children and youths observe the scene, their expressions ranging from curiosity to solemnity, underscoring the significant and perhaps sobering event of the soldier’s return for these onlookers.

The room is rich in texture, from the wood grain of the walls and floor to the humble furnishings and household implements, elements that anchor the scene in a tangible, relatable reality. The way the light streams through the small window creates a chiaroscuro effect, further emphasizing the emotional gravity and intimate atmosphere of this domestic space. Overall, this work is a masterful portrayal of human emotion and the impact of war on the individual and his community, rendered with the acute observation characteristic of the Realist movement.

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