This famous oil painting, Zaporozhtsy was created by Ilya Repin in 1880 and completed in 1891, lasting for 12 years. This work was based on the Ukraine folk legend: Turkey Sultan put forward a letter to require Zaporozhtsy to believe in Muslim and join with them to fight Russia. The brave Zaporozhtsy who loved freedom resolutely refused them and laughed at Sultan. These ordinary humans’ actions were revealed through the contempt for the enemy.
For the creation of this history painting, Repin carefully read the history of Ukraine and understood the background of legend era. At the same time, he visited the areas closely related to this event in 1880 and got familiar with people’s clothes, faces, bodies, etc. In addition to creation of many sketches and drawings, he also made a lot of portrait clays. He made painstaking efforts and repeatedly drafted to constantly revise and supplement to his creations.
Zaporozhtsy was a work consisting of lots of people. Ilya Repin made powerful features to the character’s attitudes, bending fingers, details of lines of clothes and hairstyles, and character’s psychological and emotional feelings. In his later years, Repin’s right hand was not flexible, so he used his left hand to paint. In order to repeatedly bate and modify the works, he always walked several miles back and forth every day. He loved his art career and worked very hard. Sometimes because of the excessive fatigue, he fainted in the studio. The doctor asked him to have a good rest in Sunday and get away from painting. So he had to draw sketches with cigarette butts to leach the ink with no painting tool.