Patriotism has always been fashionable among artists. At least, because you can express yourself vividly in relation to your homeland. All Russian artists treated Russia quite loyally. Yes, there was a fashion to paint overseas landscapes. But quite quickly, many artists returned to their native expanses.
As for Vereshchagin, then there is a very special conversation. For a long time he was considered a master of battle paintings, but still he is more a documentary. This was especially evident after his Turkestan series of paintings. Indeed, for the Russian Empire, Turkestan was exotic. So he showed on his canvases the life of another nation, which has its own laws and rules, its own traditions.
Vereshchagin's special theme is war. Often he returns to this difficult topic. On this canvas, he depicted people's power, which manifested itself in the Patriotic War of 1812. Partisan detachments of peasants were often organized in the snowy forests of Central Russia. They acted no worse than a real army. And it was a "nightmare" for the Napoleonic army, and much later for the fascist invaders.
What is on the canvas? At first, you will not immediately see the main characters. The whole blame is the snowy landscape in the foreground. Vereshchagin, as it were, hid the power of the people behind the power of nature. One can imagine that the partisans are in ambush and the enemy’s convoy is passing very close by. But they must be allowed to come closer to themselves and under the cover of a winter Russian forest, they are waiting for a convenient moment to launch an attack.
In fact, the entire canvas is covered by a winter landscape, and only by looking closely you can find the figures of bearded men who are closely watching the French and only when the elder gives a signal about the onset will the battle begin.
Vereshchagin, thus, sang the spirit of the Russian people, his strength, his power and his peasant cunning.
Tachanka Grekova Picture