In 1876, Repin returned from France to Russia. The first winter Repin spend in the parents’ house in Chuguevo.
“I did not make a mistake that I came here for the winter,” he writes to Stasov, “Only in winter the people live freely with all interests, urban, political and family… And Chuguev himself is a pure treasure… A wonderful snow fell, the road is shiny… I have a sheepskin coat, a fur coat, a snowstorm, a road disappeared, rode along signs… Ah, you have not experienced this pleasure “
In Chuguev, along with other outstanding paintings, he painted the painting “Protodeacon”. Here Repin appears as a pungent, passionate satirist, comparable not even to Gogol, but to Saltykov-Shchedrin.
Giant Ivan Ulanov,
“The deacon is well-deserved,” Repin tells Kramskoy about his model, “the whole city of Chuguev can attest to the complete resemblance to the original, which so amused the well-meaning townspeople, and the manner and gesture of the hands and eyes, in short, they said, to the great pleasure of their father Ivan Ulanova, who even became proud to become even intolerable to his good-natured impudence, and a type of interesting one! This is the extract of our deacons, these lions of the clergy, who do not have anything spiritual for one iota-all of it is flesh and blood, a loop a roar, a yawn and a roar, a roaring senseless but solemn and strong, like the rite itself in most cases. I think that the deacons are the only echo of the pagan priest Slavic
Everyone who knows Repin’s work admired this verbal description no less than the picture itself. And how can you not admire the exact, fresh, popular speech, its sharp, like a blade, intelligence, its imaginative power? A letter to Kramskoy was sent by Ilya Yefimovich in January 1878, and two months later, without knowing Repin’s words, Mussorgsky wrote to Stasov, seeing the picture: “My dear… I saw the protodeacon created by our glorious Ilya Repin. Fire-breathing mountain! And Varlaamishche’s eyes are watching the spectator, what a terrible scale of brush, what a fertile breadth! “
“Protodeacon” – a remarkable stage in the art of Repin, a kind of “nicks.” First, this thing will be rejected by an official commission collecting exhibits for the International Art Exhibition in Paris, for it will discern in it the denunciation of the church and the clergy, an insult to religion. Secondly, “Protodeacon” marks the beginning of the long-term work of Ilya Efimovich over his famous Cross procession in the Kursk province. a picture where the whole of Russia will be given.