Vasily Vereshchagin

By Armand Cabrera

Vereshchagin was born in Cherepovets, Russia in 1842. At 8 years old he was sent to naval cadet school. He made his first voyage at the age of 16. 

Vereshchagin graduated first in his class from Naval school  but left the service and joined the Saint Petersburg Academy to study drawing and painting. Two years later he won a medal and the next year travelled to Paris to study under Jean-Leon Gerome.

In 1867 he rejoined the service and received a medal for bravery at the siege of Samarkand. He returned to Paris in 1868 and Started an Atelier in Munich in 1871.

He continued to travel extensively through Asia from North Africa to India and the Philippines. Besides painting exotic cultures he also painted brutally realistic depictions of war and was onsite during many conflicts. His paintings were considered too real and banned from being published or exhibited in many countries of Europe and in his native Russia.

Vereshchagin was with Russian troops during the Russo Turkish War 1877-1878, The First Sino-Japanese War 1894-1895 and The Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

Eventually his depictions of the horrors of war brought him success and fame though his work continued to be controversial in certain circles.

He died during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 when the warship he was on struck two mines and sank, killing most of the crew, including Vereshchagin.


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