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The original idea of the picture "Stepan Razin" was a legendary romantic story about that episode from the life of the rebellious ataman, when he throws his beloved, Persian princess overboard into the oncoming wave.
The demonstration of the moral victory of the leader and the preference of the interests of the led army over personal interests, fascinated many great artists and poets. But Surikov refused to implement this traditional idea, focusing on the inner world of a person whose thoughts cover problems of a wider scale, incomparable with the personal tragedies of individual people.
V. Surikov's painting “Stepan Razin” is filled to the brim with space, air and light. A dawn is rising above the horizon, painting with soft purple light the whole boundless space of the picture. A large boat under sail and with four pairs of oars swiftly moves along the wide Volga-Mother River. Rowers in tense poses, with concentrated faces, are completely immersed in the action that gives acceleration to the ship. The captured moment of the oars raised and the tense sail makes the rook outwardly similar to a huge bird in flight. In the center of the picture, amid rowers and a sail, sits, immersed in his thoughts, the main character is Stepan Razin.
A successful trip to the Caspian region brought great prey, which the Cossacks sitting in the foreground rejoice in. One of them tiredly bowed his head on board the boat, in the hands of the other - a bowl of wine. Two more, not releasing weapons, celebrate victory. And only the chieftain, leaning on an expensive saddle, reclining, props his head with his hand, and an expression of serious thought froze on his face.
The artist wrote sketches for a painting on the Don and in Siberia. The appearance of the Krasnoyarsk scientist Ivan Timofeevich Savenkov and his son Timofey was taken as a prototype for writing a portrait of Stepan Razin. Although contemporaries, who knew Surikov well, found a noticeable similarity in the features of the hero with the appearance of the author himself. At least, those thoughts that haunted the artist, he found consonant with the thoughts that ran into the brow of his hero.
Savrasov View Near Oranienbaum