Russian Art

Surikov, V. I. Stepan Razin. 1906

Stepan Razin The monumental "Stepan Razin" (1906) and "Yermak Conquering Siberia" (1895) represent Vasily Surikov's heroic period, which lasted roughly from the 1890s to 1910. These two canvases celebrated the feats of the legendary Cossack Chieftain Stepan Razin and the military leader Yermak Suvorov, uniting themes of daring adventure and fierce nationality. Marking a new phase in Surikov's career, "Stepan Razin" reflects the artist's interest in "bylina" (traditional Russian historic poems), legends, and fairy tales. Stepan Razin was the leader of an anti-government uprising of peasants, Cossacks, and others, which eventually led to his execution in 1671. The painting depicts Razin and his men sailing the Volga in a calm, pensive moment rather than in the heat of battle. The sensation of tranquillity is heightened by the river's still waters, the crew's relaxed activities, the lavender color scheme, and misty horizon. In depicting the rowers lifting their oars, Surikov perhaps refers to the legend which compares oars to the wings of a bird lifting the boat into the sky. (00364)
Copyright ©. George Mitrevski. Auburn University.