Art Sunday #127: Ilya Repin – Barge Haulers on the Volga


Barge Haulers on the Volga or Burlaki (Russian: Burlaki na Volge, Бурлаки на Волге) is an 1870–73 oil-on-canvas painting by the Russian realist painter and sculptor   . The work depicts 11 laboring men dragging a barge on the Volga River. The men seem to almost collapse forward in exhaustion under the burden of hauling a large boat upstream in heavy, hot weather.

The work is both a celebration of the men’s dignity and fortitude, and a highly emotional condemnation of those who sanctioned such inhumane labor.  Although they are presented as stoical and accepting, the men are largely defeated; only one stands out: in the center of both the row and canvas, a brightly colored youth fights against his leather binds and takes on a heroic pose.

Repin conceived the painting during his travels through Russia as a young man and depicts actual characters he encountered. It drew international praise for its realistic portrayal of the hardships of working men, and launched his career.  Soon after its completion, the painting was purchased by Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and exhibited widely throughout Europe as a landmark of Russian realist painting. Barge Haulers on the Volga has been described as “perhaps the most famous painting of the Peredvizhnikimovement [for]….its unflinching portrayal of backbreaking labor”.


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I think this is the part where you are to write something clever and witty about yourself. I’m solidly locked in middle age and content with myself. I love to travel to see and experience new things, new foods and new drink. I also like to cook and bake mainly because I like to eat. And I found out that I’m pretty good at both. I'm not a professional blogger nor do I want to be. I'll leave that to others while I'll kick back and post whatever suddenly pops into my brain. I'm more spontaneous anyway. And the rest we’ll just kinda sorta figure out as we go along. Feel free to leave comments or even just to say "Hello". Find me at:

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