Ilya Repin Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Artist Ilya Repin spearheaded the Soviet contribution to the Realism art movement and remains one of the most famous European artists of all time.

Ilya Repin was a leading Russian artist who was most respected for his oil paintings and sculptures. Repin was born in the part of the then Russian Empire now known as Ukraine and his reputation has travelled far and wide due to some impressive artistic techniques and memorable subject choices for several of his key works. This website covers all the best paintings to have come from the career of Ilya Repin and provides images of them all for your enjoyment.

Ilya Repin produced paintings in a realism style which carefully chose subjects which in the main boasted hugely emotional settings which carried powerful meanings that left the artist needing only to portray the importance of the situation through his painting to it's viewer. There were many politically based works as well as other more traditional portraits which served as necessary commissioned works that helped to finance the other paintings which Repin was more passionate to produce. Ilya Repin was an important artist for several reasons.

The paintings which he created were made in exceptionally important political scenes and serve as excellent visual clues for historians as to the exact events of each, as seen in the likes of Religious Procession in Kursk Province, Ivan the Terrible and his Son and Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV. This famous Russian is an artist who managed to take Russian domestic issues abroad through his truly inspiring style which was powerful and realistic. Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire was a crucial painting for Repin and he spent an incredible length of time in creating and amending this masterpiece which concentrated on an enormously moralistic and poignant atmostphere which few other paintings have ever attempted.

The painting was supposed to underline Cossack Republicanism as well as liberty, equality, and fraternity for it's members. His paintings have been collected with great passion and protected with even greater strength by various major Russian art galleries and museums who have quickly understood that this artist represents someone who has had a major impact within the international art world, and certainly cannot be considered just a domestic painter of local topics.

This artist can be considered a truly Russian artist who captured some extraordinary scenes which most other artists would have shyed away from even attempting. Repin passionately attacked such situations with a passion that only someone with creative senses could do and he established a reputation within the Russian Empire of that period as being the go-to artist for anyone looking to capture themselves in history on canvas in a style which would be complementary and emotional.

Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady is a good example of where Repin experimented with portraits and he enjoyed this genre which offered him very different challenges to his normal choice of large scale political scene with whole groups of characters. Repin was seen as an artist who laid the foundation for future Russian painters who became known as Social Realists and it is impressive to see a Russian painter who covered political topics but still survived revolutions to continue his work.

Repin retreated to Finland in his later years and eventually passed away in Kuokkala, Finland, aged 86 in 1930. Repin was confortable within Finland and felt enough protection from the situation across the border which for many years was turbulent to say the least. It was at this time that he concentrated on religious topics which ensured he avoided becoming a political target when so many others had.


Unexpected is a personal work set within a Russian home which has some similarities to some paintings produced by fellow realist artist Gustav Caillebotte. The two artists share an ability to draw the viewer in with great detail and carefully selected scenes which somehow manage to intrigue. Russian artists have produced some ground-breaking work over recent centuries and the movement of many of them to the United States or western Europe has made it easier for themselves to gain attention to their work from the international art audience.

Once several artists had then established themselves, the focus would actually be on existing Russian art more generally and from this experience, many wanted to continue to learn more about that region's work. Ilya Repin captured some extraordinary Russian celebrities within his life having been granted some huge commissions which reflected his standing with the Russian art world towards the end of the 19th century.

Major names painted by Repin at this time included Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Zhirkevich, Nicholas II, Alexandra Fyodorovna, Composer Modest Mussorgsky, Anton Rubinstein, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, Afanasy Fet plus Pushkin and many more. Ilya Repin was an artist who took on some bold topics during his career and these have left us with some truly powerful paintings, often featuring a real buzz of excitement perhaps of a religious procession or a key political moment.

This Ukrainian seemed to master from an early age the ability to choose a suitable topic from which to create an impressive scene. Ilya Repin is respected most in his native Russia, and it is here that most of his original paintings still reside. Despite this, though, it is still very fair to recognise him as an artist who influenced others on an international scale and also helped to promote Russian art generally. Repin is a relatively more traditional artist compared to others from this region who gave us influences more akin to the modern art developments of the 20th century.

The window during which Repin produced his most accomplished oil paintings came towards the end of the 19th century, at a time when his skills and experience had developed considerably from his early days as an aspiring artist. He marked many political moments in that region's history around that time, including the death of Ivan the Terrible plus other key dates. There were also elements of sculpture within this artist's career but these are not seen in the same light as his oil paintings, and most academic attention is always placed on the latter, with that being seen as the more skilled of his total output.

List of Famous Ilya Repin Paintings

Please see below for a summarised list of the best Ilya Repin oil paintings that are featured throughout this website as well as in the prints and posters gallery.

  • Convicts Pulling a Boat Along the Volga River
  • Ivan the Terrible and His Son
  • Religious Procession
  • Zaporozhye Cossacks
  • Lev Tolstoy
  • Albert I King of the Belgians
  • Boatmen on the Volga