Ilya Repin was the greatest Russian painter of the nineteenth century. He painted religious allegories, scenes of searing realism, and portraits of the Russian intelligentsia.
Ilya Efimovich Repin was born on August 5, 1844 in the village of Chuguiev, Ukraine. His father was a military settler and retired from the army only in the early 1850s. The mother taught Repin, his older sister, his younger brothers, and some neighborhood children.
In 1855 Repin entered the School of Military Topography in Chuguiev, where he learned drafting and coloring. Two years later he studied with a local icon painter, Ivan Bunakov. Then Repin accepted commissions from various provincial churches to paint icons and other decorative work. He also painted portraits of his relatives.