Ilya Yefimovich Repin was a Russian realist painter. He was the most renowned Russian artist of the 19th century, when his position in the world of art was comparable to that of Leo Tolstoy in literature. He played a major role in bringing Russian art into the mainstream of European culture. His major works include Barge Haulers on the Volga, Religious Procession in Kursk Province and Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks.
Repin was born in Chuguyev, in the Kharkov Governorate of the Russian Empire into a military family. He entered military school in 1854 and in 1856 studied under Ivan Bunakov, a local icon painter. He began to paint around 1860. He met fellow artist Ivan Kramskoi and the critic Vladimir Stasov during the 1860s, and his wife, Vera Shevtsova in 1872. In 1874–1876 he showed at the Salon in Paris and at the exhibitions of the Itinerants' Society in Saint Petersburg. He was awarded the title of academician in 1876.
In 1880 Repin traveled to Zaporozhia in Ukraine to gather material for the 1891 Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. His Religious Procession in Kursk Province was exhibited in 1883, and Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan in 1885.