The Wanderers: Russian Art Movement
Peredvizhniki or Itinerants: Russian Landscape Painters.

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The Bee-Keeper (1872) by Ivan
Kramskoy. (Tretyakov Gallery)
Beautiful example of
19th Century Russian Painting.

Wanderers Russian Art Movement (1863-1910)
Russian Landscape Artists known as "Peredvizhniki"

The Wanderers art movement, known formally as The Society for Itinerant Art Exhibitions (and less formally as the peredvizhniki or Itinerants), was formed in 1863, among members of the St Petersburg Academy of Fine Art, including Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887) and (later) Ilya Repin (1844-1930). An important group in pre-revolutionary Russian art, it was an association of progressive socially/politically minded Russian artists, who predated Impressionism by a decade and who - chiefly concerned with rural landscape painting - toured the countryside painting what they saw in an effort to promote awareness of rural life outside the cities. Their focus was to portray the strengths and hardships of the country in an affectionate, nationalistic but realist manner. Members of the Wanderers Movement produced a wide range of landscapes, portraits and genre paintings, which they then sent on exhibitions around Russia. Although unconventional, the Wanderers or Itinerants made a deep and wide-ranging impact on Russian painting.

Overgrown Pond (1879)
By Vasily Polenov
The work is one of the most
famous landscape paintings of
the Itinerants movement.

For the greatest view painters, see:
Best Landcape Artists.

For a guide to the different forms
of fine and applied arts,
please see: TYPES OF ART.

Tretyakov Collection

The Wanderers received a variety of support from other Russian artists, as well as the art critic Vladimir Stasov, who promoted their painting and artistic program. The art-collector Pavel Tretyakov bought many of their best works, which later formed the basis of the Tretyakov Gallery which opened in Moscow, in 1892.

In addition to Repin and Kramskoy, famous Itinerant painters included the portraitists Nikolai Gay (1831-94), Vasily Petrov (1834-82), and Nikolai Yaroshenko (1846-98); and the history painter Vasily Surikov (1848-1916). However, landscape and rural genre-paintings were the major part of the Itinerants' agenda. Landscape artists included: Feodor Vasilyev (1850–1873); Ivan Shishkin (1832-98) nicknamed the "Tsar of the forest" - see his magnificent Oak Grove (1887, Museum of Russian Art, Kiev); the luminous landscape painters Arkhip Kuindzhi (1842-1910) and Nikolai Dubovskoy (1859-1918); and the light/colour expert Isaac Levitan (1860-1900) - see his Secluded Monastery (1890, Tretyakov Gallery).

The cultural work of the Wanderers was used by Lenin and other Bolshevik agitators to stimulate support for their radical ideas. However, once in power, Lenin replaced the Wanderer Group with a new Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AARR), which became popular with traditional painters rebelling against the European Cubist and Surrealist-inspired abstract movements of the early twentieth century.

Eventually, the Wanderers/AARR formed the basis for the Russian Socialist-Realist art movements of the 1930s, which dominated Soviet visual arts for decades.

Ilya Repin

The most famous member of the Wanderers was Ilya Repin (1844-1930), whose works encompassed landscapes (eg. River Bank; Autumn Bouquet), portraits (eg. Mahmoud IV of Turkey), dramatic history painting (eg. Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan), and rural genre-scenes (eg. Bargemen on the Volga). Figure painting remained his focus, and even his landscapes are populated with people.

• For landscape painting in America, see Hudson River School (1825-75) and its off-shoot Luminism (1850-75).

• For differing styles of landscape art in Ireland, see Irish Landscape Artists.

• For more about the different types of painting (portraits, landscapes, still-lifes etc) see: Painting Genres.
• For more about plein air landscape painting, see: Homepage.

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