A Shy Peasant Ilya Repin Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Russian painter, Ilya Repin, was a well-known artist of the 19th century. He was a realist painter credited with a large number of works during his long career. Those works included portraits, one of which was the painting, A Shy Peasant.

Ilya Repin painted the portrait titled A Shy Peasant in 1877 while living in Moscow, Russia. The picture is an oil on canvass work that measures 65 x 54 cm. In the bottom right are Repin's signature and the date. The location of the portrait is the Nizhny Novgorod State Museum of Fine Arts in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Repin's portrait of the peasant captures the realism of the type of life experienced in a time of tension and upheaval. The picture shows the peasant sitting against a bare plastered wall. The wall is the only background the viewer sees. The man is wearing clothing that would indicate he's probably an agricultural worker rather than a labourer. His coat appears weather-beaten and well-used. Repin realistically captures the peasants face. He shows the viewer a man whose face looks weather-beaten and chiselled with a hesitant look. The painter's use of earthen colours in the clothing and background gives an idea of what life might have been like for the sitter. Looking at the picture, Repin offers the viewer a sense of the harsh living conditions and tensions within the existing social order.

Early influences come through in many of Repin’s works. It allowed him to paint scenes showing ordinary everyday life activities with style and ease. A strong influence in his work was his own background. Repin hated the oppression in Russia of the lower classes. The painter saw everyone as being equal, and that art should be available to all. It was during the 1870s that Repin found himself influenced by the idea of the Russian peasantry. He sought to capture the struggles and social injustices that existed in Russia at that time.

Repin was an influence on other Russian artists as a teacher and painter. He inspired painters such as Mykola and Oleksandr Murashko. Repin's was not just a successful genre painter. To many, he was also one of Russia's best portrait painters. His legacy was the realism that he captured in pictures such as A Shy Peasant and Barge Haulers on the Volga. His paintings showing everyday life reflect the tensions of the existing social order.