“Repin was not just a famous artist, but a citizen artist…” – that’s how another artist, I. Grabar, spoke about Repin.
I look at Repin’s painting “Zaporozhtsy write a letter to the Turkish sultan” and I myself want to laugh. I want to enter the circle of reckless Cossacks and print along with them and their word to those who think they have the right to dispose of the fate of another people.
The picture is bright, colorful, it is represented Zaporizhzhya Sich.
A central character is singled out – Ataman Sirko. He was not only a remarkable commander, but also a merry Cossack. Sirko is our fellow countryman, he was born near Kharkov – in Merefa.
It was a summer evening when a letter from the Turkish sultan was brought to Sich. “I am the brother of the Sun and the Month, the grandson of Allah… Go to the service to me…” – wrote the Sultan. Evil dismantled Sirk and his fellowship, decided to immediately write back. They called the clerk, the gamblers freed the table. Everyone makes a noise, everyone throws up his sharp words: “Write: you’re our pig’s senior gilt!” – “The horned curve of a brother!”
But the strongest word was found by Ataman Sirko. What started here! A whiskered white-toothed Cossack knocked his fist on the back of a hollow-eyed neighbor, another Cossack fell from his laughter to the barrel, jerking
At the table sits an old, toothless old man with a small chub, dried from years and from the sun. Maybe that’s why he lived in the world for so many years that he could laugh happily. For the grandfather – an important man in a black high hat with a yellow top, his eyes, too, sparkle with laughter. This is a judge Zaporizhzhya Sich.
In the picture of Repin you will learn the characters of Gogol’s story “Taras Bulba”. The handsome young man reminds Andria; Ostap, apparently, recently returned, he stands behind the judge in a bloodied bandage and listens to the speeches of his comrades. The very same – to Taras – in a white hat, in red zhupane.
The naked Cossack in the picture is a gambler. It turns out that the Sich was a custom: too many dodgers were forced to strip naked, so that they had nowhere to hide the cards, so that they could not make noise.
All these characters create a general impression of power, dexterity and fun…
Ilya Repin’s painting aroused interest in all countries of the world – she was taken to Chicago, New York, Stockholm. It was bought by the Russian Tsar, and the smaller version was exhibited in the Kharkov Art Museum.