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Ilya Repin Religious Procession in Kursk Province

21 February 2022
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Ilya Repin Religious Procession in Kursk Province


Ilya Repin, an outstanding portrait painter, a master of historical and everyday life, presented a large-scale painting "Religious Procession in Kursk Province" - a work going far beyond the everyday genre - at the Eleventh Mobile Exhibition.

From the depth of the painting, a heterogeneous stream of people is shown moving directly toward the viewer and seems to burst into real space. In the front part of the procession there are singers carrying a huge canopy decorated with colored ribbons from the icon with a gilded dome, in which the flame of candles flickers. Behind them is a crowd of churchmen and townspeople, at the head of which two women bowed with humble reverence over an empty icon case from under the miraculous icon. Further, a red-haired priest with a censer is seen, and at some distance a local rich lady with an expression of arrogance on her face carries the miraculous icon itself. The rest of the city nobility march alongside: a military man in uniform, a merchant with a gold chain on his belly and high clergy.

And on both sides of the painting, this noble public has been cordoned off by mounted policemen and centurions having the badges on their chests. They protect the procession from the common people, that hungry and impoverished crowd, which with sincere faith awaits mercy and miracles from the "revealed icon". A poor young hunchback on a crutch burst forward of all, with an expression of spiritual detachment, he rushes forward, but he is blocked by a stick.

The painting impressed the contemporaries in an unprecedented way. The conservative strata of society immediately raised aggressive polemics around it. In the reactionary press, the work was criticized for unfair exposure and poisonous sarcasm. But all the artist's friends, progressive youth, students, intelligentsia and educated commoners accepted her with delight.
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