“Refusal of confession”, Ilya Efimovich Repin – overview of the painting

“Refusal of confession”, Ilya Efimovich Repin – overview of the painting
“Refusal of confession”, Ilya Efimovich Repin - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Ilya Efimovich Repin
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1879-1885

Overview of the painting :

Refusal of confession – Ilya Efimovich Repin. 1879-1885. Oil on canvas 48 x 59 cm
   The idea of the plot of the presented picture came to Ilya Repin by accident – he caught the eye of a poem in the banned journal “People’s Will”, which was called “Last Confession”. In the work of N. M. Minsk (Vilenkin) talked about a revolutionary who refuses to repent in the face of a priest who is ready to forgive him sins. Sentenced to death considers himself right, therefore does not need repentance.

   Repin replaced the passionate debate in the poem with frenzied silence on the canvas. The priest compresses the cross in his hand, waiting for the decision of the prisoner, essentially without any interest – neither fiery calls, nor religious exhortations. A exhausted suicide bomber in a dirty bathrobe with disheveled hair and sagged mustache, ready to accept his fate, was simply immensely tired, but, nevertheless, remained strong in spirit. He seems to be slouching off the priest, proudly bowing his head – his whole pose says: “no, no need!”

   The painful mood is supported by a color solution. The dark background fills most of the canvas, only two figures are highlighted by an invisible source. Sidelight picks up and a meager setting – a modest iron bed.

   Strict censorship did not miss the work of the traveling exhibition, referring to the unacceptable plot, and the viewer met with the “Refusal of confession” only ten years later. Although a revolutionary society knew the picture from photographs perfectly.

   It is known that Repin returned to this plot many years later (1913), creating an aquarel version of the picture.

   Stasov, who once met Repin with a poem in an illegal magazine, wrote to a painter after he saw the picture: “Ilya, I am beside myself – not that of admiration, but of happiness … this is a real picture that can only be picture!”

   And perhaps this is the best criticism …