The canvas was the final one in the artist’s series of paintings dedicated to the Russian revolutionary movement. Here we see a political exile who has returned home unexpectedly. The reaction of the household is diverse – from an incredulous surprise (the maid at the door), caution (the little girl at the table) to an outburst of joy (his wife seated at the piano and the boy at the table) and the deep commotion of the spirits expressed in the hunched figure of his mother. The pictures on the wall – Golgotha, Emperor Alexander II on His Funeral Bier, portraits of T.G. Shevchenko and N.A. Nekrasov – explain what has occurred and sum up the spiritual atmosphere in this intelligentsia family’s modest house. Repin redid the exile’s face multiple times trying to convey the expression of uncertainty and doubt of a man who has returned to his former world after many years. Times had changed, and the attitude towards revolutionaries, their ideals and methods of struggle was becoming more and more ambiguous.
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