Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin (1842-1904) – Russian painter and writer, one of the most famous battle painters.
At the age of nine, he entered the naval cadet corps. At the end, after a short period of service, he retired and entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, where he studied from 1860 to 1863 with A. T. Markov, F. A. Moller and A. E. Beideman. Leaving the Academy, he left for the Caucasus, where he stayed for about a year. Then he went to Paris, where he studied and worked under the guidance of Jerome (1864-1865)
In March 1865, Vereshchagin returned to the Caucasus and continued to write from life.
In the autumn of 1865 he visited Petersburg, and then returned to Paris again to continue his studies. He spent the winter of 1865-1866, studying at the Paris Academy. In the spring of 1866, the artist returned to his homeland, completing his official studies.
In 1867, he gladly accepted the invitation of the Turkestan Governor General, General K.P. Kaufman, to be an artist with him. Arriving in Samarkand after being captured by Russian troops on May 2, 1868, Vereshchagin received a baptism of fire, having endured with a handful of Russian soldiers a heavy siege of this city by rebel locals. The outstanding role of Vereshchagin in this defense gave him the Order of St. George of the 4th class (August 14, 1868), which he proudly wore, although he generally denied all sorts of awards.
At the beginning of 1869, with the assistance of Kaufman, he organized a “Turkestan exhibition” in the capital, where he demonstrated his works written in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara, in the Kazakh steppes and the city of Turkestan. After the exhibition, Vereshchagin again goes to the Turkestan region, but through Siberia.
This time, the artist made a trip to the Seven Rivers and Western China. Among the works of Vereshchagin dedicated to the Seven Rivers and Kyrgyzstan are the Rich Kyrgyz hunter with a falcon, mountain views near the village of Lepsinskaya, the Chu River valley, Lake Issyk-Kul, the snowy peaks of the Kyrgyz Range, Naryn on the Tien Shan. Vereshchagin created five sketches in the mountains near Issyk-Kul, the most striking of which is “Barskaun Pass”. He made sketches in the Boom Gorge, visited Lake Alakol, climbed the high passes of the Alatau ranges.
At that time, in Western China, Bogdykhan’s troops pacified the Dungans (Chinese Muslims), who raised the banner of rebellion in Shaanxi province seven years ago. A little later, the Dungan rebellion swept over the Kuldzhinsky Territory. On the streets of New Kuldzhi (Hui-Yuan-Cheng) and Chuguchak lay mountains of ash and piles of human bones. Vereshchagin bitterly painted the ruins of local cities. The famous painting “The Apotheosis of War” was created under the impression of the story of how the despot Kashgar – Valikhan-tore executed the European traveler and ordered his head to be placed on top of a pyramid made up of skulls of other executed people.
In terms of art, Vereshchagin’s impressions of his personal participation in this defense and other military operations during the conquest of Turkestan, as well as of his second trip in 1869, gave him material for such vivid pictures as “Let them come in,” “Entered,” “surrounded “,” Persecute “,” attacked by surprise “and others, which were part of the huge” Turkestan series “, performed by the artist in Munich in 1871-1874. and having tremendous success in Europe and Russia.
In 1871, Vereshchagin moved to Munich and began working on paintings based on oriental subjects. At the same time, he began his life together with his first wife Elizabeth Fisher.
In 1873, he arranged a personal exhibition of his Turkestan works at the Crystal Palace in London. In the spring of 1874, an exhibition was held in St. Petersburg.
A month later, the Imperial Academy of Arts awarded Vereshchagin the title of professor, whom Vereshchagin refused.
Then Vereshchagin lives for almost two years in India, also leaving for Tibet. In the spring of 1876, the artist returned to Paris.
Having learned in the spring of 1877 about the beginning of the Russo-Turkish war, he immediately went to the army, leaving his studio in Paris. The command ranks him among the adjutants of the Commander-in-Chief of the Danube Army with the right to free movement of troops, but without official content. The artist participates in some battles.
In June 1877, he was seriously injured.
In 1882-1883, Vereshchagin again traveled to India. In 1884 he traveled to Syria and Palestine, after which he painted paintings on gospel stories.
In 1889, the artist visited the United States.
In the summer of 1894, Vasily Vereshchagin with his family travels around Pinega, the Northern Dvina, the White Sea and visits Solovki.
In 1899 he spent one and a half summer months with his family in the Crimea.
In 1901, the artist visited the Philippine Islands, in 1902 – the United States and Cuba, in 1903-Japan.
When the Russo-Japanese War began, Vereshchagin went to the front. He died (March 31) on April 13, 1904, together with Admiral S. O. Makarov in a mine explosion of the battleship “Petropavlovsk” in the outer raid of Port Arthur.