Painting Princess Sophia by Ilya Repin

The painting “Princess Sophia” by Ilya Repin is a scene of impotent anger and rage, which the author’s contemporaries called disgusting

“Princess Sophia” is a picture painted by Ilya Efimovich Repin under the impression of the history of the archery rebellion against the young Tsar Peter I. This is the first historical work of the artist, in which he made an attempt to comprehend the state of the royal prisoner during the execution of her supporters.

In the middle of the cell rises a middle-aged woman in a brocade dress with rich trim, bare-haired, disheveled and angry. Her eyebrows are drawn together, her gaze “drills” the space, as if demanding an answer from the viewer for the abomination that is happening at this moment. The bright figure of the heroine occupies the entire center of the picture.

Ilya Repin. Painting Princess Sophia, 1879
Ilya Repin. Painting Princess Sophia, 1879

To the right of it is a high window behind which the silhouette of a hanged man is guessed. In the depths on the left, a small novice hid. She looks at the woman in bewilderment, frightened by her impotent anger. In the image of the interior of the room, negligence is felt. This is just a background. Images drown in darkness. Details are blurred, only the golden brocade of the dress, books, writing materials and the dark red floor stand out clearly. He seems to recall that the princess tried to ascend the throne at the cost of the blood of her younger brother. The tones are predominantly crimson, dark green, like oxide on bronze, most of the space is almost black.

Name of the painting: “Princess Sofya” (full title “Princess Sofya Alekseevna in the Novodevichy Convent in 1698”).
Author: Ilya Efimovich Repin (1844-1930).
Year of writing: 1879.
Size: 204.5 x 147.7 cm.
Style: Realism.
Genre: Historical
Technique: Oil painting.
Material: Cardboard.
Location: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Ilya Repin – the famous Russian artist of the late XIX – early XX century

In an effort to restore the believable appearance of his characters, he spent a lot of time studying documents, accessories and costumes of a bygone era. Thanks to in-depth research activities, his painting vividly and truthfully reflects real historical events. To create a collective image of the princess, the mother of Valentin Alexandrovich Serov and several other women posed.

To immerse in the surroundings, Repin’s wife sewed a dress according to the sketches from the Armory, which corresponded to the time. According to the technique of execution and details, the art critic V. N. Moskvinov recognized the work as very reliable. The painting “Princess Sophia” by Ilya Repin was not liked by contemporaries.

They said that the pose was not thought out, and the overweight, blurry woman in full growth overwhelmed the spectators, who “had little space” next to her. Only a close friend of the painter, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy, approved the work, recognizing the historical value of the image. When it was transferred to the Tretyakov Gallery is unknown.

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