- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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becomes an idolizer of Velasquez: “Everything is pale
and insignificant in comparison with him. He paints
with his nerves. The impression is crushing; there is
no other word for it.”

Kramskoï died in his vocation. While, in 1887, he
was painting the portrait of Rauchfuss, the imperial
physician in ordinary, he dropped his brush, and,
stooping over for it, fell dead on the spot. No one else has
painted the Russian race in so many different
physiognomies as he.

His pupil, Riepin, the greatest living artist of Russia,
has gained special reputation by some historical
paintings: one of the Tsaritsa Sophia after Peter the Great
has driven her from the throne, and the much-talked-about
Ivan the Terrible, throwing himself broken-hearted
over his son, whom he has killed by a blow from
his iron-shod cane. The latter is a masterpiece, and
admirably painted. You can almost smell the pools of

Still, these are not the paintings which are the most
characteristic of Riepin’s talent. They are those in
which he has represented his own age. There is a
simple strength in them, a profound and genuine
earnestness, and a fascinating heartiness. He has caught upon
his canvas what, in the strict sense of the word, may be
called modern Russia. His pictures, on that account,
are regarded in certain circles as paintings with a
purpose, — radical paintings. You will find in his works
the types of the intelligent young men of the day, of the
female students with short hair and wise expression.
He has painted the burlaki, who drag the boats on
the Volga up against the stream. The expression in
the depraved or resigned countenances of these bent,
sweating laborers, with the tense muscles under their

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