Repin Ilya – “They Didn’t Expect”

In the painting “They Didn’t Expect” Ilya Repin depicted the moment of the meeting between the revolutionary who returned from exile and his family, which was celebrated to see him alive. The artist captured the silent pause that hung in the air at the meeting.

The artist succeeded very well in conveying the effect of the unexpected appearance of a person on the doorstep. The family cannot believe their eyes, hope and a state of shock can be seen on their faces.

Of course, it is clear what will happen next, but the artist preferred to keep silent about this, allowing each viewer to live this situation on their own. Many emotions can be read in the eyes of the returnee, but the main one is forgiveness and repentance.

An elderly woman rises from the chair to meet her son, her gaze is riveted to his figure, she still does not believe the miracle that happened. Dressed in mourning clothes, apparently, she mentally parted with her son forever. The artist depicted her from the back, but this does not prevent her from understanding what she had to endure: gray hair, drooping shoulders, a tired figure indicate that she had a hard time.

In addition to his mother, the exiled is met by his family, who also do not believe what is happening. The wife and children are about to burst into tears of happiness, the girl froze with fear, and the boy is ready to throw himself on his father’s neck. The wife is lost in conflicting feelings – this is confusion, and joy, and fear.

The artist graphically separated the figure of the exiled from his family members – it is depicted in a darker manner. His appearance, like a thunderbolt from the clear sky, breaks the usual mournful life of this family.

Year of painting: 1888.

Dimensions of the painting: 160.5 x 167.5 cm.

Material: canvas.

Writing technique: oil.

Genre: genre painting.

Style: realism.

Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

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