The Zaporozhian Cossacks is a painting by Ilya Repin

The Zaporozhian Cossacks is a painting by Ilya Repin

Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks is a captivating painting created by the renowned Russian artist Ilya Repin. Let’s delve into the fascinating details of this masterpiece:

Title: Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks
Artist: Ilya Repin
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 203 cm × 358 cm (80 in × 141 in)
Location: State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
Historical Context: The painting depicts a supposedly historical event set in 1676 and is based on the legendary tale of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. These Cossacks inhabited the lands around the lower Dnieper River in Ukraine. According to the story, they had defeated the forces of the Ottoman Empire in battle. However, despite their victory, the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed IV, demanded that the Cossacks submit to Ottoman rule.

In a characteristic manner, the Cossacks replied with a letter filled with insults and profanities. The painting captures their pleasure in crafting ever more base vulgarities. Whether this incident truly happened or is merely a picaresque tale remains a subject of debate. Regardless, the Cossacks’ defiant spirit and irreverence shine through in Repin’s powerful portrayal.

Artistic Significance:

Repin’s meticulous attention to detail and expressive brushwork bring the scene to life.
The composition captures the camaraderie and raucous energy of the Cossacks as they pen their audacious reply.
The painting reflects the tension between authority and rebellion, as well as the enduring spirit of those who defy oppressive rulers.

Nikolai Gogol’s novella Taras Bulba briefly mentions this incident, and Repin likely heard the story from artistic circles.
The painting has become an iconic representation of the Cossack spirit and their unwavering defiance.
Today, you can find this remarkable work exhibited in the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, alongside another version by Repin housed in the Kharkiv Art Museum in Ukraine.

Repin’s Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks stands as a testament to the power of art to immortalize historical moments and evoke the indomitable human spirit.


Ilya Repin

Ilya Repin


Ilya Yefimovich Repin was a Ukrainian-born Russian painter, recognized as one of the most famous artists in Russia during the 19t ...