Vasily Vereshchagin, Mortally wounded

Vasily Vereshchagin – Russian battle painter, tireless traveler

Winners. 1878-1879
Winners. 1878-1879

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.

Triumphant. 1872
Triumphant. 1872

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.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Painting Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulpa, 1632
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Painting Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulpa, 1632

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 apotheosis of war
The apotheosis of war

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.

Near the fortress wall. Let them come in
Near the fortress wall. Let them come in

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.

In conquered Moscow (Arsonists or Shooting in the Kremlin). 1897-1898
In conquered Moscow (Arsonists or Shooting in the Kremlin). 1897-1898

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.

Vasily Vereshchagin, Crucifixion among the Romans. 1887
Crucifixion among the Romans. 1887
Vasily Vereshchagin, Cannibal. Late 1870s - early 1880s
Cannibal. Late 1870s – early 1880s
Vasily Vereshchagin, Burlaki. 1866
Burlaki. 1866
Vasily Vereshchagin, After the attack. A dressing station near Plevna. 1881
After the attack. A dressing station near Plevna. 1881
Vasily Vereshchagin, Afghan. 1867-1868
Afghan. 1867-1868
Vasily Vereshchagin, Bachi portrait. 1867-1868
Bachi portrait. 1867-1868
Vasily Vereshchagin, After the failure. 1868
After the failure. 1868
Vasily Vereshchagin, Wealthy Kyrgyz hunter with a falcon
Wealthy Kyrgyz hunter with a falcon
Vasily Vereshchagin, Mortally wounded
Mortally wounded
Vasily Vereshchagin, After the luck. 1868
After the luck. 1868