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Vasili Vasilievich Vereshchagin

Vasili Vasilievich Vereshchagin

   •   Unclassified artists   •   Wikipedia: Vasili Vasilievich Vereshchagin
107 Discovered works of art  •  ID: #5855
"I loved the sun all my life, I wanted to paint the sunshine, but the war haunted me." This statement by Vasili Vasilievich Vereshchagin describes a dichotomy that shaped the artist's life. Vereshchagin came from the Russian landed gentry and embarked on a military career at the age of eight. As a cadet in the Russian Navy, he traveled to Western Europe and got to know the Middle East. After graduating from the Naval Academy, however, he left military service to become a painter. The military and the war was one of the constants in his life, the other his travel passion. In the following years he toured Europe, India, the Middle East, the Asian part of Russia and the Himalaya region.

Although he periodically returned to Russian military service, serving as an officer in the Tsarist army during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877/78, he could not shake off the horrors of war and became his artistic main subject. Just as the military never quite let him go, Vereshchagin returned to Russia again and again, though he went the way of many Russian intellectuals to Western Europe. For many years, Munich was his center of life, where he maintained a studio. His ruthless war pictures, which represented the suffering and violence of the war, caused a sensation. Vereshchagin developed a photorealistic style, which triggered violent reactions among his contemporaries. His orientation towards the new medium of photography caused irritations. Again and again his documentary style was criticized.

Vereshchagin was a political artist who pursued a clear didactic goal through his pictures. By portraying the horror of war, he wanted to popularize his conviction of the need for peace. His artistic mission was to embrace a deeply divided culture at the end of the nineteenth century that was imperialist in the mainstream, but also produced strong pacifist movements as a counter-impulse. One of his major works, the "Apotheosis of War", exerted such an effect on the German Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke during an exhibition in Munich that the military left the exhibition speechless and immediately prohibited the visit of the exhibition by German soldiers. The effect was quite intentional, dedicated Vereshchagin his picture but all the conquerors of the past, present and future. In Russia, his pictures of the war were not allowed to be shown publicly and also not printed in books. The depiction of a shooting scene in a British colonial war in India led to strong reactions in the British public. © Meisterdrucke


Bokharan Soldier (Sarbaz), 1873
1873 | Oil on canvas

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Bokharan Soldier (Sarbaz), 1873
1873 | Oil on canvas

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