Two Ukrainian peasants (1880) by Ilya Repin

Two Ukrainian peasants - Ilya Repin - 1880

Artwork Information

TitleTwo Ukrainian peasants
ArtistIlya Repin
Art MovementRealism

About Two Ukrainian peasants

The artwork entitled “Two Ukrainian peasants” is a portrait painted by the esteemed artist Ilya Repin in the year 1880. It is characteristic of the Realism art movement, a period during which artists sought to depict subjects in a true-to-life manner, eschewing the embellishment and idealization prevalent in previous movements. Repin, known for his narrative and socially critical works, here presents a portrayal of individuals likely emblematic of the rural populace of Ukraine at the time.

The artwork captures two male figures depicted in profile, with the focus on their facial expressions and upper bodies. The figure on the left is facing towards the viewer, exhibiting a jovial expression with a slight smile and his eyes appear to be mid-twinkle, suggesting a moment of light-heartedness or amusement. His hair and beard are dark and he wears a white shirt with a dark strap running diagonally across his chest, perhaps indicative of traditional attire.

In stark contrast, the second figure, on the right, has a more solemn and weathered visage, directed away from the viewer. His features are gaunt, with a pronounced nose and a long, matted beard, and his expression seems weary or contemplative. His attire mirrors that of the first man, although his image is cast in shadow, further emphasizing the difference in their demeanors.

Repin’s artistry is evident in the textured brushwork and the interplay of light and shadow, which bring a sense of volume and realism to the subjects. The background of the painting is minimalistic, allowing the attention to remain squarely on the two individuals, and by extension, the human condition they represent. The medium of oil on canvas enables the effective rendering of textures and realism that the artist is celebrated for.

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