Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin is a talented Russian artist of the 19th century, a brilliant representative of the battle genre. Vasily Vereshchagin’s paintings demonstrated the inhumanity of war and its catastrophic consequences. The master’s work also includes exotic landscapes and everyday scenes.
Vasily Vereshchagin was a military man, traveled a lot, wrote books. The artist believed that every painting should contain an idea; without this, creativity has no meaning.
Biography of Vasily Vereshchagin
Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin was a native of Cherepovets, in the 19th century this district town belonged to the Novgorod province. He was born into a noble family on October 26, 1842. At the age of nine, his parents assigned their son to the Cadet Naval Corps, an educational institution in St. Petersburg, which he successfully graduated from in 1860.
Already during his studies, Vasily became interested in painting, studied at a drawing school. After graduating from the cadet corps, he did not serve as a naval officer, but, contrary to his parental will, entered the art academy. In 1863 Vereshchagin went to the Caucasus. Here the painter observed the customs of local residents, created sketches depicting folk types, the original southern nature, and everyday scenes.
The works of the young Vereshchagin were exhibited at the famous Parisian Salon of 1866. In 1867, the artist’s military service began. He was assigned to the military district of Turkestan, where Vasily was awarded the Order of St. George of the 4th degree for his participation in the defense of besieged Samarkand. The result of these events in the work of the painter was the Turkestan series of works. In 1873, Vasily Vereshchagin presented his works in London at his first solo exhibition, and a year later an exposition took place in Russia.
The next trip was a trip to India
In Italy, the artist lived in different cities, visited the Eastern Himalayas. Here Vereshchagin created about 150 works.
In 1884 Vasily Vereshchagin traveled to Palestine. Here he wrote sketches on the biblical theme, landscapes, genre works.
The next creative stage was the series of works “1812”, dedicated to the Patriotic War. These were battle scenes and landscapes depicting the places of battles.
In 1891 the master settled in Moscow. While living in Russia, he traveled to his native places, visited the White Sea, Solovki. There were also more distant trips: to Cuba, America, Japan. With the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, Vereshchagin again joined the ranks of the military. On April 13, 1904, he was aboard the battleship “Petropavlovsk”. The ship was blown up near the coast of Port Arthur – so tragically ended the life of the painter.
The most famous paintings by Vasily Vereshchagin
Vasily Vereshchagin’s paintings reflect the artist’s unique talent, his richest life experience. Among the best works, the following are worth highlighting:
- “The Apotheosis of War” (1871) – the pile of skulls depicted by the artist in the lifeless desert became a universal image, a powerful anti-war protest. The work exposes the essence of any war, its true appearance.
- “A rich Kyrgyz hunter with a falcon” (1871) – the painting is dedicated to the painter’s friend Baitik Kanaev. On canvas, he appeared in the image of a rich nomad in a yurt, traditional for his people, with a falcon in his hand.
- “Mortally Wounded” (1873) – Vereshchagin captured the last minutes of a soldier’s life, who had only a couple of steps left to take. The scene is set in Central Asia, the space is shrouded in sand and smoke. The picture again becomes a reproach to the cruelty and inhumanity of all wars.
- “Mausoleum of the Taj Mahal in Agra” (1876) – the famous Indian architectural monument on canvas appears as a precious pearl against the background of a bright blue sky, beautifully reflected in the dark waters of the river. The artist skillfully conveyed the grandeur and grace of the temple.
- The Japanese Woman (1903) is a very poetic work by Vereshchagin, demonstrating his love for ethnography.
Vasily Vereshchagin was a unique multifaceted personality. Already the first exhibitions left no doubt about the genius of his talent. Pavel Tretyakov bought the works of the master in series. In the hometown of the painter today there is a house-museum in his honor.