Having received the right to participate in the competition for the Great Gold Medal, Perov decided to submit to the Academic Council a sketch on the “Rural Cross Procession on Easter” (1861). but the sketch was not approved.
Continuing to work on this plot, Perov simultaneously prepared a picture “A Sermon in the Village” (1861, TG). Its critical content was expressed not so directly, and the author was awarded the Big Gold Medal and the right to travel abroad abroad. It seems that the academic authorities did not understand the real meaning of the picture. The content of it was no less topical and no less acute than the previous picture.
In 1862, he exhibited in the Society of the promotion of artists in St. Petersburg “Rural Cross Procession on Easter” (1861, TG), but the canvas was removed from the exhibition with the prohibition to betray his fame. Spirituality of church pastors, darkness, ignorance and unbelief of the people is
the content of this work, according to the power of exposing a peer who does not know himself in the preceding Russian painting. By this time, the artistic language of Perov is freed from student bondage, and we can talk about the novelty of his expressive means. Various elements of the picture obeyed the task of realistic reflection of the observed and deeply meaningful life situation.
Against the background of a gloomy rural landscape unfolds a drunken procession with images and banners, after a festive Easter service. With harsh realism, Perov communicates not so much the physical as the spiritual squalor of these people. The picture produced a deadly impression on contemporaries by the contrast between the meaning of the rite and the almost animal condition to which a person can descend. “Rustic procession on Easter” caused a protest of official criticism and church, was removed from the exhibition of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, banned for display and reproduction. The artist V. G. Khudyakov, who bought it Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, wrote: “… rumors are rumored that it is as if you will be promptly asked by the Holy Synod on what basis do you buy such immoral pictures and expose to the public?” (“Popes” ) was exhibited on Nevsky on a permanent exhibition, from where it was soon removed, but still she raised a big protest! And Perov instead of Italy, as it were, does not get to Solovki. “
With this picture, a young artist enters the history of Russian art.